The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted retail pharmacies the ability to dispense abortion medication to women who have a prescription.
This marks the first time that retail pharmacies are able to provide this service.
The regulatory change allows pharmacies that become certified to offer mifepristone, which is used in conjunction with misoprostol to terminate pregnancy, to patients with prescriptions from qualified healthcare providers.
Previously, the FDA had only permitted abortion medication to be prescribed and dispensed at clinics, medical offices, hospitals, or under the supervision of a certified healthcare provider, according to The New York Times.
Per the FDA, Mifeprex and its generic version, Mifepristone Tablets (200 mg) are available under a shared system risk evaluation and mitigation strategy known as the Mifepristone REMS Program.
This program outlines the requirements that must be followed for the use of mifepristone for medical termination of pregnancy up to ten weeks gestation.
The FDA advises against purchasing Mifepristone online without a prescription, noting that it does not have regulatory oversight of medications from outside the legitimate U.S. drug supply chain and therefore cannot guarantee their safety, effectiveness, or quality.
Data from the Guttmacher Institute indicates that medication abortion accounted for 54% of all U.S. abortions in 2020, a percentage expected to increase with the availability of abortion pills at retail pharmacies.
In a statement, GenBioPro CEO Evan Masingill said, “Today’s FDA announcement expands access to medications that are essential for reproductive autonomy and is a step in the right direction that is especially needed to increase access to abortion care. GenBioPro looks forward to working with prescribers and pharmacies to increase access to medical abortion care for all people.”
In December 2021, the FDA announced that it would not enforce a rule requiring patients to obtain the first of the two abortion drugs in person at a medical office or clinic during the COVID-19 pandemic, making it possible for abortion medication to be mailed.