FRIDAY, Jan. 6, 2023 (HealthDay News) — Two major pharmacy chains, CVS and Walgreens, plan to offer abortion pills in states that do not have restrictions that would prevent dispensing the medications. This likely will not increase access in states that have made abortion illegal since a June decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling.
The move by the pharmacy chains comes in response to a U.S. Food and Drug Administration rule change this week allowing pharmacies to become certified to dispense mifepristone directly to someone with a prescription, CNN reported.
CVS said in a statement, “We plan to seek certification to dispense mifepristone where legally permissible.” Meanwhile, Walgreens said it is “working through the registration, necessary training of our pharmacists, as well as evaluating our pharmacy network in terms of where we normally dispense products that have extra FDA requirements and will dispense these consistent with federal and state laws.”
“In terms of whether or not that is going to have any impact in states where abortion is banned, I think the answer is probably not,” Lewis Grossman, a professor of law at the American University Washington College of Law in Washington, D.C., told CNN. “I don’t see any real effect there.”
Other pharmacies have not announced their plans and it is not clear if they will seek certification, CNN reported. “It’s not at all clear that many or all or most pharmacies, or pharmacies in more rural areas, or pharmacies in red states will do so in ways that meaningfully [increase] access to medication abortion,” Leah Litman, a professor of law at the University of Michigan, told CNN. Also, “mail-order pharmacies have already been dispensing pills with the FDA’s permission,” she wrote. “So, the possibility of getting medication abortion existed before this latest decision.”
In addition, the new certification process may be more complicated than some pharmacies would like. “Mifepristone is not the kind of drug for which any kind of pharmacy certification is normally required,” Grossman explained. “And this particular pharmacy certification regime seems much more onerous than one would expect for a random drug with a similar safety profile.”
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