Women avail themselves of ways to terminate pregnancy outside of the formal health system. This study was done to explore how drug sellers engage with women who attempt to purchase misoprostol from them.
A mapping exercise was undertaken to list small-chain and independent drug stores in two regions in Colombia. A sample of 558 drug stores was selected from this list and visited by mystery clients. Mystery clients sought to obtain a medication to bring back a delayed period. Misoprostol was offered for purchase in 15% of the visits; in half of the visits, only information about misoprostol was shared, while no information about misoprostol was provided on the remaining visits. Over half of sellers who refused to sell any medication provided referrals, most commonly to an abortion provider. Mystery clients received little information on the physical effects to expect with the use of misoprostol and possible complications.
This study concluded that misoprostol is being obtained from some drug sellers without a prescription, capacitating this cadre with at least a minimum of standardized information on dosage, routes of administration.