Women in Canada will now be able to terminate pregnancies in the early stage via a drug, as Canadian health authorities have approved the drug RU-486, commonly known as the abortion pill.

The pill, a combination of misoprostol and mifepristone, had been pending approval by Health Canada since 2012.

Reacting to the development, Vicki Saporta of the National Abortion Federation called it "great news" for women in Canada, while anti-abortion campaigners disagreed, calling it a "human pesticide".

According to BBC, the pill causes a medically induced abortion earlier in the pregnancy than most surgical abortions, and earlier terminations are considered safer than late term abortions by pro-choice campaigners.

The drug has been in use in the United States since 2000 and in France since 1988, and is already available to women in about 60 countries, it also has been in use in the UK for almost 25 years.

BBC reports that the Linepharma pharmaceutical company has been told they can begin production of the pill, which will be sold under the brand name Mifegymiso.

But, a doctor's prescription will be required for women to obtain the drug, which is normally effective up to 70 days into a pregnancy.

According to Saporta, the pill will likely become available in 2016, and will be distributed by doctors rather than pharmacies, as it is done in the US.

Abortion is legal in Canada and has been since 1988 when it was first legalised by the Canadian Supreme Court.