Two major pharmacy chains will sell the abortion pill in some states

(Washington) Two large American pharmacy chains, Walgreens and CVS, announced Friday that they would begin selling the abortion pill by prescription in the coming weeks in some of the states where abortion is still authorized.

Until recently, the abortion pill could not be obtained from pharmacies in the United States, but was usually obtained in specific locations, such as abortion clinics.

The two chains, present throughout almost the entire country, have now received the necessary certification for the prescription sale of mifepristone, the first of the two pills taken as part of a medical abortion (the second already being sold elsewhere).

This announcement comes at a time when the abortion pill is the subject of an intense legal battle, started by anti-abortion activists.

CVS said it plans to begin selling mifepristone “in the coming weeks” in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and plans to eventually expand to “additional states where the law ‘allowed “.

Walgreens, for its part, announced that it would begin selling this pill “within a week” in the states of New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, California, and Illinois.


Walgreens will sell the pill in the states of New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, California, and Illinois.

The group declined to reveal the number and locations of participating pharmacies, “in the interest of pharmacist and patient safety” – a statement indicative of the climate of tension surrounding this issue.

Walgreens also announced that it intends to expand the sale of this pill to “all states” where it is “legally” possible.

Abortion – whether surgical or medical – has been banned or restricted in around twenty states since the Supreme Court’s decision in June 2022 to overturn the federal guarantee of the right to abortion.

“Fierce attacks”

Faced with this assault on abortion rights, the Biden administration has sought to use the federal means at its disposal to strengthen access where possible.

In January 2023, health authorities changed the regulations to allow the sale in pharmacies of mifepristone, access to which has been strictly regulated since its authorization in 2000 by the American Medicines Agency (FDA).

Walgreens and CVS then announced their intention to obtain the necessary certification from manufacturers Danco and GenBioPro.

Democratic President Joe Biden, who has made the defense of the right to abortion a major theme of his campaign ahead of the November presidential election, welcomed on Friday an “important step to ensure access to mifepristone”, which can now be obtained in pharmacies “like any other medicine”.


US President Joe Biden

“The stakes could not be higher for women in America,” he added, denouncing the “fierce attacks” of Republican elected officials on the subject.

The American Supreme Court must examine at the end of the month a currently suspended decision of an ultraconservative appeals court. This, if confirmed, would notably reduce the maximum number of weeks of pregnancy authorized to take the abortion pill, and would prohibit its sending by post.

Joe Biden’s government wants to “transform all pharmacies and post offices in America into abortion centers, serving the greed of the abortion industry,” said Katie Daniel of the Susan B organization on Friday. . Anthony, opposed to the right to abortion.

What impact?

Where abortion is still legal, this announcement should allow some women to have faster access to the abortion pill, without having to wait to receive them in the mail or having to travel to a possibly distant clinic.

In states where abortion has been banned, on the other hand, abortion pills cannot be sold, so the decision by Walgreen and CVS changes nothing.

Still, for people who decide to travel to a state where abortion is legal, a pharmacy may be closer than a clinic, thereby reducing travel time.

Elisa Wells, co-founder of the Plan C information network on abortion pills, welcomed the announcement by the two pharmacy chains. But she called on the FDA to lift the restrictions still governing mifepristone, including “the certification process required for pharmacies”.

“Our gaze is now turning to other distributors so that they follow,” commented the EMAA project, an organization which campaigns for access to medical abortions, citing the Target, Walmart and Costco chains.

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