For Those Seeking Abortion, This Is a 'Game Changer'

FDA finalizes rule change allowing certified pharmacies to dispense abortion pill mifepristone
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 4, 2023 7:41 AM CST
For Those Seeking Abortion, This Is a 'Game Changer'
Boxes of the drug mifepristone sit on a shelf at the West Alabama Women's Center in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on March 16, 2022.   (AP Photo/Allen G. Breed, File)

The FDA on Tuesday approved a rule change allowing retail pharmacies to dispense the abortion pill mifepristone—providing more options for residents of states where abortion pills are allowed and for those able to travel out of states where abortion is restricted. The Biden administration broadened access to the drug last year, permitting pandemic-era rules allowing access via telemedicine and mail delivery to remain in place, per Politico. This move goes a step further, allowing access with a prescription via large pharmacy chains where permitted by state law, so long as they complete a certification process. Walgreens and CVS Health are now reviewing certification requirements, per Reuters. This marks a big change from not long ago when mifepristone could only be accessed in person.

After temporarily suspending the in-person requirement during the pandemic, the FDA said a new scientific review "supported easing access, concurring with numerous medical societies that had long said the restriction wasn't necessary," per the AP. Two drugmakers requested the change to dispensing restrictions in June 2022, as required under FDA rules. Danco Laboratories, which sells mifepristone as Mifeprex, said the change "is critically important to expanding access to medication abortion services." Evan Masingill, CEO of GenBioPro, the generic maker of the drug, said it's "a step in the right direction" but "will not provide equal access to all people" as several states have near-total abortion bans or require patients to get abortion pills only from prescribing doctors.

Planned Parenthood President Alexis McGill Johnson called it "a game changer for people trying to access basic health care," while Marjorie Dannenfelser of SBA Pro-Life America urged lawmakers to stand against "pro-abortion extremism." In states where allowed, the dispensing of mifepristone at brick-and-mortar pharmacies could appeal to those "without a stable home address, those who do not want a parent or partner to see the pills delivered by mail and those without internet access," per Politico. Mifepristone, which dilates the cervix and blocks the pregnancy-sustaining hormone progesterone, is approved to terminate pregnancies up to 10 weeks. It's taken with a second drug, misoprostol, which is also used to induce labor and treat stomach ulcers and is therefore less restricted. (More abortion pills stories.)

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