In this photo illustration, packages of Mifepristone tablets are displayed at a Planned Parenthood clinic on April 13, 2023 in Rockville, Maryland.
Anna Moneymaker | Getty Images
Ongoing litigation has threatened the approval of mifepristone in the U.S. It is currently the most common method of terminating a pregnancy in the country.
The five companies have been tight-lipped for several months about whether they will be certified to sell mifepristone under Food and Drug Administration a program that monitors how drugs are distributed and used by patients.
“It is unconscionable that the nation’s five largest retail pharmacies refuse to declare whether they will receive certification to provide basic, legal, FDA-approved medical abortion care to Americans,” said Rep. Dan Goldman, D-NY. in a statement Thursday.
Goldman and Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif., sent a letter asks company CEOs to confirm by June 23 whether their pharmacies will be certified to sell the abortion pill.
More than 50 other Democratic lawmakers signed the letter.
“Your continued silence is unacceptable because it runs counter to your publicly stated values of supporting equal access to health care and gender equality,” the lawmakers told the CEOs in a letter.
Democratic governors and senators asked the companies in March whether their pharmacies would be certified to dispense the drugs. The companies have not yet publicly commented on the issue.
The largest retail pharmacies in the U.S. have increasingly found themselves in the middle of a national fight over abortion access that began with the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade last June. More than a dozen states have banned abortions since the Supreme Court overturned a landmark 1973 decision that protected access to the procedure as directly under the US Constitution.
As conservative states enacted abortion bans after the fall of Roe, the FDA sought to expand access to mifepristone in January by allowing retail pharmacies for the first time to dispense the drug if they become certified.
The agency also made it permanent for women to get the pill by mail.
The companies soon faced opposition from Republican attorneys general, who worried that easier access to mifepristone, especially by mail, would undermine their states’ restrictive abortion laws or outright bans.
The GOP attorney general has warned the CEOs of CVS and Walgreens that they will take legal action if the companies sell the pill in their states. Walgreens has confirmed with the Attorney General that the company will not sell mifepristone in their states.
Walgreens then got slapped around California Governor Gavin Newsom. The Liberal governor refused to renew the state’s contract with Walgreens because of her move.
Mifepristone’s status as an FDA-approved drug faces a deeply uncertain future, even in states where abortion is legal.
A group of anti-abortion doctors sued the FDA last November to pull mifepristone off the U.S. market entirely.
US Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk of the Northern District of Texas ruled in April in favor of the anti-abortion doctors, suspending FDA approval. The Supreme Court intervened in the case and conservative approach to mifepristone during the litigation.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals now has the case and could issue a decision at any time. The court of Appeal justices appeared skeptical of the Justice Department’s defense of mifepristone during oral arguments in May.
The case is likely to end up in the Supreme Court again, especially if the appeals court rules against mifepristone.