Abby Johnson, an anti-abortion activist questioned the safety of the pills and said in a statement: “While the abortion lobby will say this move is a huge step forward for women, it’s only a step forward for them and for those who manufacture the abortion pills because it means more money for them while throwing women under the bus.”
Kirsten Moore, the director of the Expanding Medication Abortion Access project, said,:“By allowing brick-and-mortar pharmacies to dispense medication abortion care, the F.D.A. is treating medication abortion like the safe, effective, time-sensitive care that it is.”
Mifepristone is currently only approved for abortion. But it is also used in the treatment of some miscarriages, and there may be pressure for pharmacies to dispense it for that purpose as well. Recently, dozens of groups, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Medical Association, filed a citizen petition asking the F.D.A. to take action to make it easier for mifepristone to be used for miscarriages.
An official with Danco, which for years was the only company to produce the medication, branded as Mifeprex, said the company expected that smaller independent pharmacies might be first to dispense the drug and that it might take the bigger chains longer, partly because of the logistics involved in complying with the requirements.
The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the company’s concerns about threats from abortion opponents, said that one logistically intricate step for big chains would be implementing the companies’ requirement that pharmacies keep confidential the names of health providers who prescribe mifepristone. A chain like CVS would not be able to list a doctor’s name in a companywide database, for example, and would have to keep that information restricted to the store that fills that doctor’s prescriptions, the Danco official said.
She predicted that early adopters might include small pharmacies that typically serve university health services or retail pharmacies on hospital campuses, adding that the company wasn’t expecting a boom in sales from the rule change. She said it was also possible that more health care providers would decide to become prescribers if they could now write prescriptions that pharmacies could fill instead of having to stock the medication themselves.
“For some people, this is going to be a huge improvement on their ability to access the drug and be able to even consider this as a choice for themselves,” the Danco official said. “For other people, not necessarily. Maybe they don’t want to go into their small mom-and-pop pharmacy. They’d rather receive it from a mail order where there’s just no interaction that way.”
Evan Masingill, the chief executive of GenBioPro, which makes the generic version of mifepristone, said in a statement: “Today’s F.D.A. announcement expands access to medications that are essential for reproductive autonomy and is a step in the right direction that is especially needed to increase access to abortion care.”