FRIDAY, April 14, 2023 (HealthDay News) — The Supreme Court issued a temporary stay on Friday to pause parts of a recent federal ruling that limits the availability of the abortion pill mifepristone.
The temporary stay, which expires at midnight on Wednesday, maintains the status quo while the justices study the briefs and lower court rulings. Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr., who oversees the appeals court in which the ruling is at issue, ordered the groups challenging the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval of mifepristone to file their brief by Tuesday at noon.
The temporary stay was granted following an emergency application filed Friday morning by the Biden administration asking the justices to intervene.
On Wednesday, a federal appeals court partially overruled Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk’s ruling in Texas last week, which said the FDA approval of mifepristone back in 2000 was invalid. The three-judge appeals court panel said mifepristone could remain available for now, but it blocked mailing the pill to patients, as well as other measures the federal government has taken recently to boost access to the medication.
But the government’s application brief filed Friday asked the Supreme Court to allow mifepristone to remain widely available while the government pursues an appeal. The government brief was harshly critical of the Texas ruling suspending approval of the drug, which is typically given as the first of two drugs in a medication abortion.
“The district court countermanded a scientific judgment [the] FDA has maintained across five administrations; nullified the approval of a drug that has been safely used by millions of Americans over more than two decades; and upset reliance interests in a health care system that depends on the availability of mifepristone as an alternative to surgical abortion for women who choose to lawfully terminate their early pregnancies,” the government’s brief said.
Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar, representing the FDA, wrote in the brief that the plaintiffs lacked standing to challenge a drug they neither take nor prescribe and that they had provided no basis for second-guessing the agency’s scientific judgment back in 2000, The New York Times reported.
In a second brief, filed by Danco Laboratories, which makes the branded version of mifepristone (called Mifeprex), the company said the federal appeals court’s ruling had created “regulatory chaos,” The Times reported.
“Leaving the… ruling in place will irreparably harm Danco, which will be unable to both conduct its business nationwide and comply with its legal obligations,” the company’s brief said. “The lack of emergency relief from this court will also harm women, the health care system, the pharmaceutical industry, states’ sovereignty interests, and the separation of powers.”
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