May 30, 2024

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US FDA clears path for pharmacies to sell abortion pills

Retail pharmacies in the US can now dispense the abortion medication mifepristone according to a new regulation implemented by the Biden administration.

The only way to obtain mifepristone right now is in-person from a doctor as one of two safe and efficient abortion-inducing medication combinations.

Although patients can now pick up their medication in person or via mail, the new regulation still requires a prescription.

The decision may considerably expand the pool of women who are eligible to obtain medical abortions.

Following the Supreme Court ruling that struck down the federal right to abortion last year, demand for abortion pills has increased as a number of states have banned or severely restricted access to the procedure.

According to the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute, more than half of US abortions are already performed using tablets rather than surgery.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced in December 2021 that, as part of its pandemic-driven shift toward telemedicine, it would permanently eliminate the need for patients to get a prescription in person from a healthcare professional.

The FDA amended its website on Tuesday to reflect the new guidelines, stating that the medication “may be provided by licenced pharmacies or by or under the supervision of a registered prescriber.”

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the action is “an essential step” in the right direction.

Usually taken between 10 and 12 weeks into a pregnancy, mifepristone is combined with the medicine misoprostol to cause what is known as a “medication abortion.” Misoprostol, which is frequently used to treat miscarriages, is a medicine that is not limited and that is simple to get from pharmacies with a prescription.

Pharmacies of all sizes and types, including independent and chain stores, can now apply for certification to sell mifepristone, enabling them to provide direct patient care when a valid prescription is provided. Walgreens and CVS, two pharmacy chains, have stated they are studying the new standards.

However, it’s likely that the political minefields surrounding abortion will have an impact on whether and where pharmacies supply the medication.

 Additionally, it’s possible that women in the more than a dozen states that forbid pharmacological abortions will need to go elsewhere in order to obtain one.