WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- The FDA implemented a regulatory change allowing retail pharmacies to dispense the abortion pill mifepristone.
- CVS and Walgreens plan to apply for the certification to dispense the pills to people with a prescription.
- Only doctors and mail-order pharmacies could fill the prescriptions before.
CVS and Walgreens announced that they plan to offer mifepristone, an abortion pill, in states where it’s legal, following a change in an FDA regulation.
Last year, the Supreme Court decided to overturn Roe v. Wade, and more states banned or restricted abortion. This prompted President Joe Biden’s administration and Democrat-led states to expand access to abortion.
On Tuesday night, the FDA issued a regulatory change allowing retail pharmacies to dispense mifepristone to people with a prescription, which was only provided by doctors and mail-order pharmacies before.
The FDA stated that any pharmacy must be certified to dispense mifepristone. Certification requires the ability to receive prescriber agreement forms by email and fax, use a shipping service that provides tracking information, designate a representative to carry out the certification process, and ensure that the representative oversees compliance with the federal mifepristone Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) program.
The agency’s move was celebrated by advocates of abortion rights.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists President Dr. Iffath Abbasi Hoskins stated: “This change will empower patients who choose medication abortion to have the option of going to a pharmacy for immediate care rather than waiting for a mail order, if that is right for them.”
Meanwhile, the president of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, Marjorie Dannenfelser, called out the Biden administration for “once again” proving “that it values abortion industry profits over women’s safety and unborn children’s lives.”
Dannenfelser accused “abortion activists” of wanting to transform “every post office and pharmacy into an abortion business” with the help of “the Biden FDA.”
Seven major retail pharmacies, including CVS and Walgreens, were contacted by Insider for their plans.
Costco declined to comment, while Albertsons, Kroger, and Walmart did not respond. Rite Aid declined to give a timeline on its decision after reviewing the FDA announcement. CVS and Walgreens’ initial statements did not include if they plan to be certified.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Walgreens’ most recent decision.
Walgreens’ statement read, “We are working through the registration, necessary training of our pharmacists, as well as evaluating our pharmacy network in terms of where we normally dispense products that have extra FDA requirements and will dispense these consistent with federal and state laws.”
CVS and Walgreens plan to apply for the necessary certification but did not specify a timeline on when they can start providing mifepristone prescriptions.
Other retailers are still considering their options, but may ultimately not offer the pill amid administrative hurdles and possible backlash from the public.
Prof. Greer Donley of the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Law explained that the FDA announcement may not have as much impact as people think. She wrote, “The only way this has any impact is if brick-and-mortar pharmacies get on board, and I’m not optimistic the big chains most Americans rely on will become certified.”