The U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP) on 29 April 1999 revised its classification of quinacrine for female sterilization (QS) from “accepted” to “acceptance not established,”1 undercutting chief quinacrine advocate Stephen D. Mumford’s main “justifications” for pressing for widespread QS throughout the developing world.
To date, Mumford has had a hand in the sterilization of over 100,000 Third World women.
Last November, in response to an FDA warning letter that cited possible QS risks and demanded that Mumford locate and destroy his quinacrine stockpile. Mumford contended that since USP had classified female QS as “…an accepted use of quinacrine,” this is “further evidence that “…no researcher or government has terminated the use of QS because it is hazardous to the health of women or ineffective.”2
USP Information Officer Keith Johnson described Mumford’s statement to the FDA as “misleading,” since QS was at that time under USP review. Johnson also said that an “accepted” status would be re-issued by the USP pending the results of a thorough analysis of quinacrine pellets submitted by a manufacturer. So far, no manufacturer has stepped forward to submit quinacrine pellets for analysis. Such a testing is costly, he said, but the submission would be routine.
Standard testing for QS would cost nearly $8 million3, according to Werner Fornos, president of the population control advocacy group, the Population Institute. Fornos contends that QS testing has been delayed because of gender inequality within the medical profession.
“One of the greatest reasons for stalling in testing and funding for testing is because there are still far too many men involved in medicine,” he said. “[A]t the heart of it, the foot-dragging comes down to gender.”4 Fornos also argued that QS has been determined to be safe, since quinacrine was used orally by soldiers during WWII as a remedy for malaria.
The action of QS is devastating. Quinacrine pellets are inserted near the top of the uterus where they dissolve into quinacrine hydrochloride which scars the fallopian tubes severely enough to block the tubes.
The USP’s new “acceptance not established” classification caps a nine month public review process, Johnson said, which addressed concerns raised by members of the international community stemming from the widespread distribution of quinacrine pellets and the potential health risks of reproductive tract cancers, abnormal uterine lesions, ectopic pregnancies, procedural failure and fetal exposure.
In an interview with PRI on 10 May 1999, Mumford, who has been linked with anti-immigration groups5, maintained that the USP’s new “acceptance not established” status would have “no effect” on the distribution and use of quinacrine pellets for female sterilization worldwide. He said that members of the scientific community who have endorsed QS are “generating momentum” against opponents of QS. Mumford said that the ‘“primary opponent” of QS is “the Catholic Church.”
1 “Quinacrine (Systemic),” United States Pharmocopeia, 29 April 1999, 1.
2 Stephen D. Mumford, Letter to William Nychis, FDA Compliance Officer, 4 Nov. 1998.
3 Erin Trowbridge, “Quinacrine: Endorsing drug of controversy,” Earth Times News Service, from Earth Times web site, www. earthtimes.org, undated.