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U.S. pharmacy chains CVS and Walgreens to sell abortion pills

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Two of the biggest pharmacy retailers in the U.S., CVS and Walgreens, will start selling abortion pills.
cvs walgreens abortion pills

Two of the biggest pharmacy retailers in the U.S., CVS and Walgreens, will start selling abortion pills.

Mifepristone is an abortion pill that can be taken within 10 weeks of a pregnancy. It’s taken with misoprostol, which is already available in many U.S. pharmacies.

CVS and Walgreens announced they will begin stocking mifepristone in select states in the coming weeks, and plan on eventually expanding its availability to more states.

However, the drug will not be stocked in U.S. states where total abortion bans are in force. Here’s the latest.

Abortion pills

The abortion pill mifepristone was first approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2000.

Before last year, it could only be prescribed in certain settings like hospitals and medical clinics.

However, under new regulations, pharmacists can apply to the FDA to sell mifepristone over the counter.

This week, CVS and Walgreens confirmed they had received this approval, and would now sell the pill in several states.

CVS and Walgreens stores

Walgreens will begin rolling out mifepristone this week across select stores in the states of New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, California, and Illinois. CVS will begin stocking it in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

There are near-total abortion bans in 14 U.S. states. This has stopped health providers from offering abortion care, including medication.

15 other states have specific restrictions on abortion medication.

Biden’s response

U.S. President Joe Biden called the announcement an “important milestone” to allow women to “have the option to pick up their prescription at a local, certified pharmacy”.

He encouraged more pharmacies to consider the sale of mifepristone, saying “the stakes could not be higher for women across America”.

Walgreens and CVS both plan to gradually expand abortion pill access to all U.S. states where it’s legal to sell mifepristone.

Opposition

Last year, an anti-abortion group attempted to ban the drug by suing the FDA for approving it. They argued that the FDA “acted unlawfully [by] authorising dangerous mail-order abortions”.

A judge ruled in favour of the group, temporarily blocking access to mifepristone. However, the decision was ultimately reversed in an appeals court.

The matter has been escalated to the U.S. Supreme Court, where judges will deliver a ruling to determine the long term accessibility of mifepristone.

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