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CVS, Walgreens to start dispensing abortion pill this month

CVS and Walgreens said they will start dispensing the abortion pill mifepristone at pharmacies in a select number of states later this month.

Officials at the two largest pharmacy chains in the US said in interviews Friday that they had received certification to dispense mifepristone under guidelines that the Food and Drug Administration issued last year, The New York Times earlier reported.

The chains initially plan to make the medication available at a select number of Walgreens pharmacies in New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, California and Illinois as early as next week, a spokesperson confirmed to The Post.

“We are beginning a phased rollout in select locations to allow us to ensure quality, safety, and privacy for our patients, providers and team members,” the representative for Walgreens — which has more than 8,600 pharmacies across the US — added.

CVS and Walgreens have been certified under the Food and Drug Administration’s guidelines to start dispensing the abortion pill mifepristone out of a select number of pharmacies. REUTERS

He added that Walgreens was “not going to dispense in states where the laws are unclear” — such as in Kansas, Montana and Wyoming, where abortion laws are being challenged and are currently in limbo — in order to protect its pharmacists and staff members.

CVS, meanwhile, is making the pill accessible at all of its pharmacies across Massachusetts and Rhode Island “in the weeks ahead,” spokeswoman Amy Thibault said, per The Times.

The Rhode Island-based retailer, which boasts 400-plus pharmacies nationwide, plans to “continually monitor and evaluate changes in state laws and will dispense mifepristone in any state where it is or becomes legally permissible to do so,” Thibault confirmed in a statement to The Post.

Certified pharmacies distributing mifepristone have to ensure that their computerized systems protected the privacy of prescribers, per modifications to the FDA’s Mifepristone REMS Program. REUTERS

CVS “will expand to additional states, where allowed by law, on a rolling basis,” she added.

Still, in some states where abortion is legal, dispensing mifepristone is illegal for a pharmacist, and can only be done by doctors, or in a hospital or clinic.

Per modifications to the FDA’s Mifepristone REMS Program in January 2023, the pill — most commonly marketed under brand names Mifeprex and Korlym — “may only be dispensed by or under the supervision of a certified prescriber, or by a certified pharmacy on a prescription issued by a certified prescriber.”

Danco Laboratories manufactures Mifeprex, while Corcept Therapeutics produces Korlym.

Nevada-based GenBioPro also produces a generic mifepristone tablet.

CVS has more than 400 pharmacies nationwide, while Walgreens boasts over 8,600. Tada Images –

Walgreens was certified to sell the medication by the brand name manufacturer Danco Laboratories, and is seeking certification from GenBioPro, Engerman said. CVS was certified by GenBioPro, according to The Times.

In order to obtain that certification, CVS and Walgreens had to ensure that their computerized systems protected the privacy of prescribers — who are certified under a separate FDA program that applies to mifepristone and several dozen other medications — as well as meet other specific steps, The Times reported.

The drug — which, in some states, can be easily prescribed through telemedicine and sent to brick-and-mortar pharmacies — typically isn’t readily available, even for doctors who are eligible providers.

As the availability in retail pharmacies expands, they may become a more popular alternative, and depending on the outcome of a case the Supreme Court will hear later this month, the pharmacy option could take on more importance.

Mifepristone is the first pill in a two-drug process to terminate a pregnancy up to 70 days in duration. The same regimen is used for miscarriages. AP

Since mifepristone’s availability in retail pharmacies is expanding, the pill is expected to become a more popular abortion alternative — depending on the outcome of a case the Supreme Court will hear later this month, in which abortion critics have sued the FDA in order to have mifepristone yanked from the market in the US, according to The Times.

An appeals court ruling in that case banned the mailing of mifepristone, instead requiring in-person doctor visits in order to obtain the medication, which is used on pregnancies less than 70 days in duration.

Terminating a pregnancy with an abortion pill is a two-drug regimen: First, a patient would take mifepristone, which blocks a hormone necessary for pregnancy development, and follows it up with misoprostol between 24 and 48 hours to cause contractions that expel pregnancy tissue, per The Times.

The same regimen is also used for miscarriages.

This story originally appeared on NYPost

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