Abortion Pills

On January 3, 2023, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finalized a rule allowing retail pharmacies in the US to dispense mifepristone, a drug used in medication abortions. For over 20 years, the FDA had only permitted the drug to be dispensed in specialty offices and clinics. However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the FDA lifted the in-person requirement for patients to obtain a prescription through a healthcare provider in December 2021.

  • While a prescription is still required under the new rule, patients can now obtain the pill through mail order or at a retail pharmacy.
  • This change will make medication abortions, which make up over half of all abortions in the US, more accessible in states where abortion remains legal.

New Abortion Pills Rule:

  • Under the new rule, those seeking mifepristone can obtain it more quickly from retail pharmacies that have completed the Pharmacy Agreement Form and are certified to dispense the drug.
  • These pharmacies are required to ensure that the drug is dispensed to patients in a timely manner. The change could make it easier for patients to access the pill, particularly in states where abortion remains legal. However, the rule will not help patients in states that have banned abortion access the pill. It is unclear whether pharmacies will be required to follow state laws restricting mifepristone or the federal FDA rule.

Impact on States with Reduced Abortion Access:

  • Several states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Texas, West Virginia, and Wisconsin, have implemented near-total bans on abortion. Other states, such as Georgia, have a six-week ban in place, making abortions largely inaccessible. Some states also have laws restricting mifepristone.
  • The new FDA rule could make it easier for patients to travel out of state for a medication abortion by obtaining the prescription and pill in another state.
  • As of November 2022, 16 states that permit abortion at some level had laws restricting mifepristone, including requirements that it be provided by a physician. It is not yet clear whether pharmacies will be required to comply with these state laws or the federal FDA rule.

Legal Hurdles:

  • Anti-abortion group Alliance Defending Freedom filed a lawsuit in November seeking to overturn the FDA’s approval of mifepristone for abortion, citing concerns over safety.
  • If Judge Reed O’Connor rules in favor of suspending the FDA’s approval of the drug, it would effectively pull the drug from the market nationwide and render the new FDA rule moot. The judge is expected to make a decision in the coming weeks.

The new FDA rule allowing retail pharmacies to dispense mifepristone, a drug used in medication abortions, will make it easier for patients to access the pill in states where abortion remains legal. However, the rule will not help patients in states with restrictive abortion laws, and the outcome of a pending lawsuit could impact the availability of the drug nationwide.

 

Written by IAS POINT

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply