CVS and Walgreens to begin distributing abortion pill mifepristone

(CNN) — CVS and Walgreens said they have received certification to dispense mifepristone, a pill that is part of the medication abortion regimen, and will make it available in a limited number of states where it is legal.

CVS told CNN it will begin filling mifepristone prescriptions in Massachusetts and Rhode Island “in the coming weeks” and plans to expand to more states “on an ongoing basis where permitted by law.”

Walgreens told CNN it expects to begin distributing mifepristone within a week “consistent with federal and state laws” and is starting in “select locations” in New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, California and Illinois. The pharmaceutical giant said it is starting with a phased rollout “so we can ensure the quality, safety and privacy of our patients, providers and team members.”

Both pharmacy chains indicated they were already distributing misoprostol, another drug involved in medical abortion procedures.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, medical abortion is the most common abortion method in the United States. It is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for use up to 10 weeks of pregnancy.

Mifepristone has been at the center of legal challenges in the United States, and the Supreme Court said in December it would consider whether to restrict access to it. The decision is expected in July.

The New York Times first reported Friday that CVS and Walgreens plan to sell mifepristone.

The FDA issued an update of guidelines for how mifepristone can be dispensed in January 2023, allowing the drug to be dispensed by “certified pharmacies with a prescription issued by a certified prescriber.”

Until then, the FDA required certified prescribers to dispense the drug directly to patients in a clinic, doctor’s office, or hospital, known as the “in-person dispensing requirement.” The drug was also available through mail-order pharmacies, as the agency said it would eliminate the need for in-person dispensing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

President Joe Biden hailed the news as “an important milestone in ensuring access to mifepristone, a drug that has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration as safe and effective for more than 20 years.”

“With major retail pharmacy chains newly certified for pharmacological abortion, many women will soon have the option to pick up their prescription at a certified local pharmacy, just as they would for any other medication,” the president wrote in a statement Friday. We do.” “I encourage all pharmacies that wish to pursue this option to apply for certification.”

Biden also warned that the stakes “could not be higher for women across America” ​​and pledged that “in the face of continued attacks on reproductive freedom by Republican elected officials,” his administration will work to restore protections from Roe v. Will do. Wade.

Biden’s campaign has attempted to make abortion and contraceptive access a major platform of the 2024 campaign by deploying Vice President Kamala Harris on a cross-country tour in support of reproductive freedom.

The Humane Coalition, an anti-abortion advocacy group, condemned the mifepristone news, calling it a “massive on-demand abortion scheme.” Chelsea Youman, the group’s national public policy director, said in a statement that “the FDA has lost all credibility by abandoning its responsibility to protect lives, and women and children are paying the price with their lives.”

Dr. Daniel Grossman, professor and vice chair for advancement in the department of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of California, San Francisco, called the decision good news.

“It’s been over a year since the FDA issued guidance for pharmacies to become certified for medication dispensing, and I’m disappointed that more pharmacies haven’t done so sooner,” he told CNN by email. “

He said that research conducted by his team showed that “medicinal abortion provided by a doctor, who sent a prescription to a physical pharmacy, which dispensed the pills, was safe, effective and well tolerated by patients.” Was received.” “We also found that pharmacists were willing to receive training on medical abortion and could easily incorporate mifepristone dispensing into their practice.”


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