CVS, Walgreens will start dispensing abortion pill mifepristone in several states, including IL

ByMeg Tirrell and Nikki Carvajal, CNN, CNNWire
Friday, March 1, 2024
CVS, Walgreens will start dispensing abortion pill mifepristone
Walgreens and CVS pharmacy say they'll start dispensing the abortion pill mifepristone in several states, including Illinois, California and New York.

DEERFIELD, Ill. -- CVS and Walgreens said they've received certification to dispense mifepristone, a pill that's part of a regimen for medication abortion, and will start making the medicine available in a limited number of states where it's legal.

CVS told CNN it'll begin filling prescriptions for mifepristone in Massachusetts and Rhode Island "in the weeks ahead," and plans to expand to more states, "where allowed by law, on a rolling basis."

Walgreens told CNN it expects to start dispensing mifepristone within a week, "consistent with federal and state laws," and is beginning in "select locations" in New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, California and Illinois. The pharmacy giant said it's starting with a phased rollout "to allow us to ensure quality, safety and privacy for our patients, providers and team members."

Both pharmacy chains noted they already dispense misoprostol, the other medication involved in medication abortion regimens.

Medication abortion is the most common method of abortion in the United States, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It's approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use up to 10 weeks into pregnancy.

Mifepristone has been at the center of legal challenges in the US, and the Supreme Court said in December it would consider whether to restrict access to it, with a decision expected by July.

The New York Times first reported Friday CVS and Walgreens plan to sell mifepristone.

SEE ALSO: Gov. JB Pritzker among 14 governors call on Walgreens to preserve abortion pill access

The FDA issued an update to guidelines around how mifepristone may be dispensed in January 2023, allowing the drug to be provided by "certified pharmacies on a prescription issued by a certified prescriber."

Before then, the FDA required certified prescribers to dispense the drug directly to patients at a clinic, medical office or hospital, referred to as the "in-person dispensing requirement." The drug was also available through mail-order pharmacies as the agency said it wouldn't enforce the in-person requirement during the pandemic.

President Joe Biden called the news "an important milestone in ensuring access to mifepristone, a drug that has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration as safe and effective for more than 20 years."

"With major retail pharmacy chains newly certified to dispense medication abortion, many women will soon have the option to pick up their prescription at a local, certified pharmacy-just as they would for any other medication," the president wrote in a statement Friday. "I encourage all pharmacies that want to pursue this option to seek certification."

Biden also warned that the stakes "could not be higher for women across America," and vowed that "in the face of relentless attacks on reproductive freedom by Republican elected officials" his administration would work to restore the protections of Roe v Wade.

The Biden campaign has sought to make abortion and contraception access a main platform of the 2024 campaign, deploying Vice President Kamala Harris on a reproductive freedoms tour across the country.

The video in the player above is from an earlier report.

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