The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has finalized a relaxation on regulations that will permit approved retail pharmacies to stock and provide abortion-inducing drugs.
Previously, women seeking an abortion via medication had to receive pills from the doctor who prescribed them, whether in person or through a telemedical service. Now pharmacies will be able to dispense the drugs to anyone with a prescription.
The ruling applies specifically to the drug mifepristone, which was first approved in 2000, with generic versions of the drug receiving approval in 2019.
“Mifepristone may only be dispensed by or under the supervision of a certified prescriber, or by a certified pharmacy on a prescription issued by a certified prescriber,” the new rule stipulates.
“Mifepristone is a drug that blocks a hormone called progesterone that is needed for a pregnancy to continue,” the FDA explained. “Mifepristone, when used together with another medicine called misoprostol, is used to end a pregnancy through ten weeks gestation (70 days or less since the first day of the last menstrual period).”
For a pharmacy to provide the drug, it must “become certified to dispense mifepristone” by completing a pharmacy agreement form. Additionally, “certified pharmacies must be able to ship mifepristone using a shipping service that provides tracking information.”
Honeybee Health, an online pharmacy in California, became one of the first to receive approval from the FDA.
Jessica Nouhavandi, a co-founder, explained, “Doing this really important work has meant a lot to us at HoneyBee, and I’m excited for the rest of the pharmacy community to be able to do this as well.”
Others, however, have denounced the decision from the FDA.
Kristan Hawkins, president of the anti-abortion group Students for Life, responded, “The Biden administration is making dangerous chemical abortion pills attainable at every corner as it lowers the medical standards for protecting women.”
“The objective of this administration has always been increased access to dangerous drugs, which is why Students for Life has launched a multi-layered campaign to demand transparency and real tests into the impact of these pills on women and the environment,” she continued.
In Texas, the rule shift is unlikely to make a substantial difference, as abortion is already illegal in the state in almost all cases. Nevertheless, state legislators have filed bills for the upcoming 88th session that could affect the dispensation in Texas of abortion-inducing drugs.
State Rep. Tom Oliverson (R-Cypress) has filed legislation to strengthen medical professionals’ “right to decline participation in health care service for reasons of conscience,” including the “procurement of contraceptives, sterilization, or abortion.”