Abortion pills can now be provided by retail pharmacies, the Food and Drug Administration declared Tuesday.
Pharmacies still must complete a certification process before filling prescriptions for mifepristone.
Previously, mifepristone could only be obtained through mail-order pharmacies or specific doctors and clinics that were approved by the FDA. And even mail-order pharmacies were a recent, pandemic-era addition to that list.
But now mifepristone, best known through the brand-name Mifeprex, could be available at every pharmacy in states where abortion is legal.
“Although the FDA’s announcement today will not solve access issues for every person seeking abortion care, it will allow more patients who need mifepristone for medication abortion additional options to secure this vital drug,” the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said in a statement.
Since 2000, mifepristone, combined with the more common drug misoprostol, has been approved to medically induce abortions up to 10 weeks into pregnancies. Many providers also offer the drug 12 or 13 weeks into pregnancies, citing studies that showed the pill is safe and effective at that stage, as well.
Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022, access to abortion pills has become a legal fight nationwide as Republican-led states attempt to limit their availability.
More than half of all abortions in the U.S. are medical rather than surgical, according to the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion-rights research group. An estimated 3.7 million women have used mifepristone since its approval.
Pharmacies must receive FDA approval before they can offer mifepristone, and information about health providers that provide the drug must remain confidential.
With News Wire Services