FRANCE

A Safe Abortion Pill?

A French pharmaceutical company hopes to begin marketing a drug in Europe that ends early pregnancies by inducing abortions.

The Roussel-Uclaf Company, the firm that developed the drug, tested it on 100 women. The women had been pregnant from two to four days before being given the drug, known as RU 486. Within four days of beginning the medication, uterine bleeding began in all 100 women. The drug induced miscarriages in 85 of the women. The other 15 obtained suction abortions.

The drug is expected to be approved this year for sale in Europe, but it has not been approved for use in the United States. Louise Tyrer of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America said she doubted the drug would ever become available in the United States because of regulatory obstacles, opposition from prolife groups, and the insurance problems that pharmaceutical companies would face.

As many as 50 million abortions are performed worldwide every year, with some 1.6 million abortions carried out annually in the United States.

SOVIET UNION

Alcohol Sales Drop

The official Soviet news agency, Tass, reported that sales of alcoholic beverages dropped significantly in 1986. A corresponding decrease in crime, traffic accidents, and absenteeism from work made up for the 40 percent cut in state revenues from alcohol sales, the news agency reported.

Production of spirits was cut substantially after Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev instituted an antidrinking campaign in 1985. Last year, sales of “cheap wines” fell 75 percent, and vodka sales declined by more than one-third. At the same time, Tass reported, sales of soft drinks and fruit juices rose.

“The antidrinking drive brought about a number of benefits, with ...

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