FDA Says Retail Pharmacies Can Now Offer Abortion Pills

Patients will still need a doctor's prescription to access the drugs, and pharmacies must follow certain rules to dispense the medication
woman getting meds in a pharmacy
woman getting meds in a pharmacyAdobe Stock

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 4, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration finalized a regulatory change on Tuesday that allows retail pharmacies to offer abortion pills. Before now, patients could only get this two-drug medication through clinics, doctors, and a handful of mail-order pharmacies.

Two companies that make the medication, Danco Laboratories and GenBioPro, announced the news after they were notified by the FDA of the change. "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 health care providers with an additional method for providing their patients with a safe and effective option for ending early pregnancy," Danco said in a statement.

"Today's FDA announcement expands access to medications that are essential for reproductive autonomy and is a step in the right direction that is especially needed to increase access to abortion care," Evan Masingill, the CEO of GenBioPro, which makes the generic version of mifepristone, told The New York Times.

Patients will still need a doctor's prescription to access the drugs, and pharmacies must follow certain rules to dispense the medication.

Abortion pills are used in more than half of U.S. pregnancy terminations, a recent report showed. They are now in even higher demand because of abortion restrictions enacted by states after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last June.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists applauded the move. "Allowing for brick-and-mortar pharmacies to join mail-order pharmacies in dispensing mifepristone for reproductive health indications will further improve access for patients," the group said in a statement. "Although the FDA's announcement today will not solve access issues for every person seeking abortion care, it will allow more patients who need mifepristone for medication abortion additional options to secure this vital drug."

Now it is up to pharmacies to decide whether to offer them. They would need to designate an employee to ensure compliance, which could be a barrier, The Times reported. Abortion bans or restrictions in some states would also make it illegal or difficult to offer the pills. Even where the pills are legal, pharmacies may face customer demand and public pressure.

A Danco official said the company expected smaller, independent pharmacies to offer the drug first. Bigger chains would need to implement the companies' requirements that keep confidential the names of providers who prescribe the drugs. That might look like CVS or Walgreens not being able to list a doctor's name in a companywide database but instead restricting that information to the specific store, the Danco official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the company's concerns about threats from abortion opponents, told The Times.

The New York Times Article

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