FDA clears abortion pills for retail pharmacies

Prescribed abortion pills can now be dispensed at retail pharmacies, according to an FDA decision published Jan. 3. 

The in-person requirement that patients see providers in physical locations is also permanently revoked after its temporary removal during the COVID-19 public health emergency, according to Danco Laboratories, one of the makers of the drug. 

Eligible retail pharmacies for the FDA's Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy Program for mifepristone — one of two drugs used in medication abortion — include locations that can ship the drug and provide tracking data. No retail pharmacy chains have released statements on whether they plan to join the program and fill mifepristone prescriptions, but CVS and Walgreens both told Becker's they are reviewing the new mifepristone program.  

CVS said its review includes each state's requirements, as some restrict the dispensing of drugs that can cause an abortion.

Mifepristone and misoprostol were approved by the FDA in 2000 to terminate a pregnancy in the first 10 weeks. As of Jan. 1, two states ban medication abortion after a specific point in pregnancy, according to the Guttmacher Institute

After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022, mifepristone was among a cohort of drugs thrown into a storm of supply shortages, pushback and confusion. Weeks after the landmark decision, demand surged for abortion pills, which are used in more than half of all U.S. abortions. 

Amid the turmoil of restricted access, HHS said it would investigate retail pharmacies, including CVS and Walgreens, over allegations of refusals to fill some prescriptions. 

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