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Anti-Abortion Group Claims Partial Victory in Drug Fight

May 13, 1987

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The National Right to Life Committee, the biggest of the anti-abortion groups, on Wednesday declared a partial victory in its efforts to get Upjohn Co. to remove an abortion-inducing drug from the market.

″Their pulling the drug is, I feel, a response to our activities,″ said Constance Anders, president of the Right to Life chapter in Kalamazoo, Mich., where Upjohn is based.

However, a spokesman for Upjohn said that while the company has decided to phase out domestic distribution of Prostaglandin F2 Alpha, it did so ″not because of the boycott but because of low sales and because alternative drugs are available.″

Told of Upjohn’s response, Dr. J.C. Willke, president of National Right to Life, responded, ″It’s significant that whatever reason they’re giving, they’re moving in our direction.″

Willke said at a news conference that his group has been boycotting Upjohn for several years in hopes of convincing the company to pull F2 Alpha from the market and to relabel two other similar drugs - E2 and 15M prostaglandin - to show their ″therapeutic rather than lethal uses.″

Willke said the company also had decided to rename and relabel E2 and 15M to avoid mention of their use in inducing abortions.

Upjohn spokesman Phillip Cara said he had not heard of such a decision.

″The Upjohn Co. doesn’t promote abortions. That’s an individual decision, made with the help of a physician,″ Cara added.

Both Willke and Anders said they believe Right to Life’s efforts have cut into Upjohn’s drug sales, a claim Cara also discounted.

In addition, Cara said he had not heard of a claim by Denise Neary, president of the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation, that eight Catholic hospitals in her state had agreed to boycott Upjohn products because of the abortion-inducing drugs.

Cara said that although individual hospitals have notified Upjohn of their plans to use other companies’ drug products, he did not know of any large- scale movement by hospitals to follow suit.

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