Walgreens and CVS will begin selling the abortion pill mifepristone this month

CVS and Walgreens, the two largest pharmacy chains in the country, will begin selling the abortion pill mifepristone this month, as reported this Friday by The New York Times and other media outlets, after having obtained federal certification to do so from the guidelines published in 2023 by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The White House recalled that this medicine has been approved as safe and effective by the FDA for more than 20 years, and asked all pharmacies in the country to also obtain certification to sell it: “The stakes could not be higher for women in the United States. “, he said in his statement, in the face of “the relentless attacks by elected Republican officials against reproductive freedom.”

Officials from CVS and Walgreens told the newspaper that they plan to distribute the pill in several states; They will not sell it for delivery by mail, they added, noting that distribution will gradually expand to other states where abortion is legal.

Mifepristone boxes.Allen G. Breed / AP

Walgreens will begin selling the drug next week in some pharmacies in New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, California and Illinois, in “a gradual rollout” to “ensure” the “security and privacy” of patients, providers and employees, it said. to the newspaper. CVS will do so at all of its Massachusetts and Rhode Island pharmacies “in the coming weeks.”

The networks indicated they will be monitoring what happens in some states, such as Montana, Wyoming and Kansas, where bans or strict limitations on abortion have been enacted but have been suspended for now due to legal challenges.

Mifepristone is the first of the two pills used for decades to abort within legal limits in the country. An anti-abortion group sued the FDA in 2022 to declare the 2000 approval illegal and remove the pill from the market entirely. The case has reached the Supreme Court, which will hear the arguments for and against on March 26 after accepting in December the appeal of the Government of Democrat Joe Biden and the pharmaceutical company Danco, the manufacturer of the pill.

The Supreme Court, with a conservative majority, overturned the federal right to abortion in 2022 in a historic ruling that reversed the Roe v. Wade in 1973. However, in April 2023, early in the mifepristone litigation, he blocked a judge’s ruling seeking to reverse the FDA’s approval of the pill.

The FDA announced last January that it will allow retail pharmacies to offer mifepristone in the United States for the first time. Before the agency’s regulatory change, only a few specially certified mail-order pharmacies, doctors or clinics could distribute the drug.

(What is the future of the abortion pill mifepristone after the Supreme Court decision?)

More than five million women have used mifepristone to safely terminate pregnancies since its approval, and more than half of those who choose to do so currently use this drug, according to the Department of Justice.

The FDA also approved a generic version of mifepristone that accounts for two-thirds of the domestic market, according to its manufacturer, GenBioPro, based in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Mifepristone is one of the two pills used in medical abortions, along with misoprostol. Health professionals have said they will resort to the latter only if mifepristone is not available or too difficult to obtain. Misoprostol is less effective in terminating pregnancy.