The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said Tuesday its will allow retail drugstores like CVS and Walgreens to offer customers prescription abortion pills.
Mifepristone can be used along with another medication, misoprostol, to end a pregnancy. Previously, the pills had to be ordered, prescribed and dispensed only by a certified health-care provider. During the pandemic, the FDA allowed abortion pills to be sent through the mail and said it would no longer require people to get the first of the two drugs at a clinic or hospital.
As of Tuesday, the in-person requirement has been removed permanently. The retail drugstores can become certified to dispense the pills to someone who has a prescription from a certified prescriber.
The FDA’s changes also permanently remove restrictions on mail order shipping and prescriptions through telehealth.
The action by the FDA comes just over six months after the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization stripped away the Constitutional right to abortion that had been established nearly 50 years earlier in Roe v Wade.
“Today’s news is a step in the right direction for health equity,” Planned Parenthood President Alexis McGill Johnson said in a statement, adding, “Being able to access your prescribed medication abortion through the mail or to pick it up in person from a pharmacy like any other prescription is a game changer for people trying to access basic health care.”
However, people in more than a dozen states that have banned abortion since the Dobbs decision, some targeting the abortion pill mifepristone, may have to travel to other states to obtain medication abortion.
A spokesperson for CVS said it was reviewing the safety requirements for mifepristone, while a spokesperson for Walgreens said it was also reviewing the regulatory change.