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Walgreens and CVS to distribute mifepristone

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Walgreens and CVS pharmacies are set to dispense mifepristone in select states, aiming to address legal complexities and enhance accessibility amidst ongoing regulatory and legal battles.

Walgreens and CVS to distribute mifepristone | Image Credit: © Sundry Photography - © Sundry Photography - stock.adobe.com.

Walgreens and CVS to distribute mifepristone | Image Credit: © Sundry Photography - © Sundry Photography - stock.adobe.com.

Officials at Walgreens and CVS have announced plans to distribute mifepristone in March 2024.

According to officials, the pharmacy chains received certification to distribute the abortion pill based on guidelines issued by the FDA in 2023. Dispersion will begin in only a few states and will not be available by mail. These states include Pennsylvania, New York, California Massachusetts, and Illinois for Walgreens and Massachusetts and Rhode Island for CVS.

Gradually, the chains will expand distribution to all states where abortion and abortion pill distribution is legal. This includes approximately half of US states. Additionally, prospects will be monitored in states with abortion bans or strict limitations such as Montana, Wyoming, and Kansas.

Walgreens will not distribute mifepristone in states with unclear laws. CVS officials have stated they will monitor changes in state law and distribute mifepristone in states where they are legally able to do so. This is not possible in certain states where abortion is legal because pharmacists are not legally permitted to dispense mifepristone.

The initial demand patients will have for accessible mifepristone and brick-and-mortar pharmacies is unclear. Abortion pills are readily available in clinics are through the mail following a telemedicine prescription in starts where the dispensing will begin.

However, many women prefer to visit doctors who do not have immediate access to mifepristone. Distribution of the pill through Walgreens and CVS will allow providers to send a prescription to a pharmacy for patients to receive. This option may grow in popularity as availability expands.

A move from abortion opponents suing the FDA to remove mifepristone from the US marketplace highlights the important of expanded access. During an appeals court ruling, the mailing of mifepristone was effectively banned, making in-person doctor visits required.

If the Supreme Court decides to uphold this decision, patients may need to visit a clinic, doctor, or pharmacy to receive mifepristone. Walgreens and CVS were required to complete certain steps such as ensuring their computerized systems protected prescribers’ privacy before being granted access to distribute the pill.

The American Pharmacists Association has urged the FDA to allow mifepristone distribution in pharmacies. The association stated it wanted the FDA to “level the playing field by permitting any pharmacy that chooses to dispense this product to become certified.”

Reference:

CVS and Walgreens will begin selling abortion pills this month. The New York Times. March 1, 2024. Accessed March 1, 2024. https://www.nytimes.com/2024/03/01/health/abortion-pills-cvs-walgreens.html

This article was initially published by our sister publication, Contemporary OB/GYN®.

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