CVS prods prescriptions that can induce abortion

As physicians balance patient care in the turmoil following the Supreme Court's decision to reverse Roe v. Wade, the pharmaceutical industry has been hit on multiple fronts, and CVS Health is the latest retail chain to add another step in its pharmacy practices. 

In states where medication abortion, an FDA-approved regimen that can induce an abortion within the first 10 weeks of pregnancy, is illegal, CVS is instructing its pharmacists to first confirm prescriptions for some drugs aren't intended for an abortion. 

"Our highest priority is ensuring safe and timely access to medications for our patients and we're committed to supporting women's health care," CVS spokesperson Mike DeAngelis told Becker's. "At the same time, laws in certain states restrict the dispensing of medications for the purpose of inducing an abortion. These laws, some of which include criminal penalties, have forced us to require pharmacists in these states to validate that the intended indication is not to terminate a pregnancy before they can fill a prescription for methotrexate or misoprostol."

Misoprostol is one of the two drugs used in medication abortions, but it can also be prescribed to prevent ulcers in those who take arthritis or pain medicines, according to the National Library of Medicine. The other drug CVS is adding red tape to, methotrexate, isn't a reproductive treatment. It's intended for rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis, and also has been prescribed for cancer patients, but people who use it have reported struggles accessing it. 

The HHS clarified on July 13 that denying people access to reproductive drugs including abortion pills and contraceptives is illegal, saying that withholding them is discriminatory, but pharmacists remain hesitant as they fear legal repurcussions. 

"Pharmacists are caught in the middle on this issue," Mr. DeAngelis said. "We will continue to focus on delivering care to our patients while complying with state laws and federal guidance that continues to evolve. To help ensure patients have quick and easy access to medications, we encourage providers to include their diagnosis on the prescriptions they write."

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