Walgreens does not sell abortion pills in some states where they are legal


Walgreens will not distribute abortion pills in Alaska, Iowa, Kansas or Montana – states where they are currently legal – as the company proceeds with caution amid intense legal and political pressure from the anti-abortion movement.

At issue is a decision by the Food and Drug Administration in early January to allow brick-and-mortar drugstores to sell mifepristone, part of an abortion drug cocktail now believed to be responsible for more than half of abortions in the United States. States. Walgreens has said it plans to become a certified pharmacy under the program, though it would only distribute “in those jurisdictions where it is legal to do so,” it said. spokesman for the company Fraser Engerman at the time.

But the FDA decision caught the attention of 20 Republican attorneys general, who in a Feb. 1 letter warned of legal action if the drugstore chain participated. Walgreens responded to each of them by promising not to distribute the drug in their state, Engerman said.

“This is a very complex and evolving jurisdiction and we are taking that into consideration as we seek certification to dispense mifepristone,” Engerman said in an email late Thursday, adding that Walgreens currently does not stock the drug. .

Abortion is now banned or threatened in these states

Abortion pills are already available through online pharmacies, which mail the drugs directly to patients. Some states have tried to ban the shipment of abortion pills, but the Justice Department has said the US Postal Service can deliver abortion pills to any state. The recent FDA decision aims to give women more ways to access the drugs.

Some pharmacies may be awaiting the outcome of a lawsuit filed in Texas by conservative group Alliance Defending Freedom seeking to overturn the drug’s 19-year-old approval. A decision by Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, an anti-abortion Republican appointed by former President Donald Trump, threatens to upset FDA approval of the drugs.

The judge in Texas who could scrap the abortion pill

Walgreens is one of the big pharmacies that has come under heavy pressure from anti-abortion activists. The annual shareholder meeting in late January ended with a bang as protesters erupted from the podium. Days later, at a CVS dispensary in Pittsburgh, protesters on both sides of the debate tried to drown each other out with megaphones. On February 14, another protest broke out at Walgreens’ national headquarters in Chicago.

Engerman, Walgreens’ spokesman, said the company respects the right to protest. “We strongly believe in the right to peaceful protest, and an area has been set aside for this, but unfortunately some protesters have taken further disruptive actions,” Engerman said.

Caroline Smith, spokeswoman for the Progressive Antiabortion Uprising, said her group was not behind the disruption of that particular meeting, but noted that her group held other protests in early February that spread to 60 confirmed cities and included at least one elected official .

Walgreens is “a little bit smaller than CVS, and we suspect that if Walgreens are forced to abandon their efforts to get their hands on the abortion pill, then CVS is more likely to follow,” she said.

Abortion rights advocates are also talking to pharmacies. The Ensuring Medication Abortion Access Project, an organization seeking to improve the way abortion medications are dispensed in the US, began reaching out to pharmacies in late 2021, said Kirsten Moore, the group’s executive director.

“What I was really pleasantly surprised to hear from most pharmacies was ‘This is an FDA-approved drug and we have no problem carrying it,’” Moore said. Her goal is to build a “coalition of the willing” among major pharmacies willing to sell the drug. An exception might be Walmart, which is based in deeply Republican Arkansas, she said.

The major pharmacy chains face a complicated legal and political analysis that varies widely from state to state. In Kansas, for example, the state Supreme Court has ruled that the right to abortion is protected by the state constitution. But state law requires abortion drugs to be “administered by or in the same room as” the prescribing physician, Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach, warned Walgreens in another letter.

The drugstore’s chief legal officer responded to Kobach by saying the company had no plans to sell or ship the drug in Kansas. “If this approach changes, we will be sure to notify you,” wrote Walgreens global chief legal officer Danielle Gray.

CVS and Rite-Aid did not immediately respond to comment.

This is an evolving story. Check back later for updates.






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