The Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday that all pharmacies would be allowed to offer abortion pills if they comply with specific regulations, The New York Times reported.
Individuals with a prescription from a certified health care provider can now access the abortives mifepristone and misoprostol at major chains like CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid, as well as local drugstores compliant with the necessary criteria.
Before the change, mifepristone was only accessible through a limited number of mail-order pharmacies, certified doctors, and clinics. Misoprostol was more circulated but is now far easier to access under the new rules.
Abortion pills are already used in more than half of pregnancy terminations in the U.S., according to the New York Times. And they've become even more sought-after — and more polarizing — since last year’s Supreme Court decision overturning the federal right to abortion.
The Roe reversal has fueled a drive by many conservative states to ban or sharply restrict abortions. That, in turn, has made the pills the increasing focus of legal, political and ethical fights. As noted in the Times report, the array of battles surrounding abortion pills could potentially impact a pharmacy’s decision on whether to carry and dispense the meds.
Although the FDA did not issue an official announcement, mifepristone’s two makers, Danco Laboratories and GenBioPro, confirmed in their own statements that the agency had informed them of the adjustments.
“At a time when people across the country are struggling to obtain abortion care services this modification is critically important to expanding access to medication abortion services and will provide healthcare providers with an additional method for providing their patients with a safe and effective option for ending early pregnancy,” Danco said in a news release.
GenBioPro also informed Reuters that the “in-person” requirement that patients see health care providers in physical locations was removed. The FDA had temporarily waived the stipulation during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It comes after year-long negotiations between the FDA and mifepristone’s manufacturers, considering issues ranging from online and in-person availability to the confidentiality of patients and prescribing doctors.
Despite the new federal standards, laws in states that ban or heavily restrict abortion still might make it difficult for retail pharmacies to provide the pills.
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