These Pharmacies May Soon Have Abortion Pills

Last week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced changes to its rules for prescribing mifepristone for abortion. Before the rule change, you couldn’t get pills at your nearest pharmacy, just like any other drug. You still can’t, but that may change now, but now it’s up to pharmacies. Indeed, several major chains have said they intend to obtain certification that will allow them to sell abortion pills.

Medical abortion is most often used in early pregnancy. While the name may indicate that it is a surgical procedure, medical or medical abortion simply refers to taking pills that cause a miscarriage. The tablets can be safely taken at home with a risk similar to natural miscarriage.

What has changed in FDA regulations?

Until a few years ago, the only way to obtain mifepristone legally was to have it personally dispensed by the prescribing physician. So, instead of going to the doctor and then picking up the prescription from the local pharmacy, the doctor had to give you the pill while you were at the office.

Two drugs commonly used for medical abortion are mifepristone and misoprostol. While misoprostol can be dispensed as usual, mifepristone can only be accessed through a cocoon of bureaucratic red tape called the REMS system. The prescribing doctor must be specially certified, the patient must sign an agreement, and if it is a telemedicine appointment — only available from 2021 — the pharmacy that mails the pills must also be specially certified.

While states may have their own laws further restricting access to abortion in general or mifepristone in particular, the paperwork described above is a federal FDA requirement. Organizations such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have long argued that all these excuses are ridiculous , since mifepristone is no more dangerous than other prescription drugs.

The FDA hasn’t ditched the REMS yet, but they’ve added a provision whereby pharmacies can apply for certification to dispense drugs, even if it’s not a telemedicine appointment – so in theory you could get locally prescribed pills. clinic and go to the pharmacy to pick them up. You know, just like any other safe, effective prescription drug.

When will my local pharmacy start stocking abortion pills?

Now that the FDA is allowing pharmacies to apply for the REMS program, the next step is to wait to see which ones will actually participate. Walgreens and CVS have announced that they intend to apply for certification in states where the sale of the pills would be legal. Other pharmacies are probably also working on certification.

You will still need a prescription for the medicine; it’s not the same as making drugs available without a prescription. (Emergency contraception, such as Plan B , is available without a prescription , but it’s meant to be used immediately after unprotected sex. Mifepristone is meant for actual abortion when you already know you’re pregnant.)

The use of medical abortion is also regulated by state law, as Kaiser Health News explains here . This means that medical abortion is illegal in states where abortion is illegal. Some states allow medical abortion but impose additional restrictions, such as banning telemedicine visits for abortions or requiring a health care provider to tell you that medical abortion can be “cancelled”, which is not the case . Check your local laws before getting your hopes up.


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