Threatened boycotts by American anti-abortion groups have forced the French pharmaceutical company Roussel-Uclaf, a subsidiary of the German company Hoechst, to stop production and distribution of mifepristone (RU-486), which the protesters call "the abortion pill." All patent rights have been transferred, without charge, to Dr. Edouard Sarkiz, one of the pill's developers. Hoechst, which had acquired Marion Pharmaceuticals to form a new group, Hoechst-Marion-Roussel, had increased its share of the US pharmaceutical market from 1% to 4% in doing so and could not tolerate a boycott. RU-486, which was discovered by Professor Etienne Baulieu, was introduced in France in 1987 as an alternative to surgical abortion. Although Hoechst, then a majority stockholder of Roussel-Uclaf, had asked the French firm to interrupt production of the pill in 1988, the French minister of health and social affairs at that time, Claude Evin, ordered production to be continued. Approximately 25% of French women seeking abortion use RU-486; it is also used in Britain, Sweden, and China (women in China must pay for the drug, while surgical abortion is free). All American firms have refused to buy the drug from Roussel-Uclaf. An offer to the World Health Organization was ignored. The American Population Council obtained the right to use RU-486 in 1993. Dr. Sarkiz has formed Exelgyn, a small nonprofit company, to produce and distribute RU-486; research into other uses for the drug will also be conducted. There has been limited research into its use as an emergency contraceptive and as a treatment for endometriosis, uterine fibroma, and breast cancer. According to Professor Baulieu, the drug could be used in treating wounds and burns because of its antiglucocorticoid and immunosuppressive properties; preliminary research by the professor indicates the drug could also possibly be used as a reversible male contraceptive because of its action on the membranes of spermatozoa. The drug's use in abortion is due to its effect on the uterine mucus membrane.