FDA approves abortion pills at retail pharmacies


Under new guidance released by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Tuesday, retail pharmacies can now dispense mifepristone, the first in a two-drug sequence for medication abortions. This move follows a December 2021 change that allows mail-order pharmacies to ship prescribed mifepristone, which previously could only be dispensed in-person by approved clinics. The medication will still require a prescription, and will remain highly restricted, or even illegal, in states that have implemented strict abortion bans.

Pharmacies opting to dispense the drug will face requirements that go beyond other medications, such as keeping the identity of the prescribing provider anonymous. Retail pharmacy chains CVS and Walgreens each announced plans to become certified to dispense mifepristone in locations where it is legal. 

The Gist: Abortion pills, currently used in used in more than half of pregnancy terminations, are becoming more sought-after in the wake of last year’s Supreme Court ruling overturning the federal right to abortion. This FDA action is the latest move by the Biden administration to expand access to abortion—though its impact will be felt unevenly across states, even with the Department of Justice stating the Postal Service can legally deliver the medications anywhere in the US.

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