In this 2018 photo, mifepristone and misoprostol pills are provided at a Carafem medical abortion clinic in Skokie, Illinois.
Erin Hooley | Tribune News Service | Getty Images
Senate Democrats called Walmart, Costco, Albertsons And Hook Selling the prescription abortion pill mifepristone and clearly letting customers know how to get it from their pharmacies.
The companies have not yet publicly stated if they plan to sell mifepristone in their pharmacies. The Food and Drug Administration in January allowed retail drugs to sell the abortion pill as long as they are certified under a federal program that monitors how the drug is delivered.
The 17 senators said Walmart CEO Doug McMillon, Costco CEO Craig Jelinek, Albertsons CEO Vivek Sankaran and Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen are frustrated that the companies have not yet publicly stated whether they will sell mifepristone. In Monday letters released Tuesday, they asked CEOs to respond by March 21 on whether they plan to seek FDA certification to dispense the drug.
“We urge you to adopt policies that provide the widest possible access to the full spectrum of necessary health care, including mifepristone, and to communicate clearly to your customers how to access that care,” the senators wrote to CEOs. The group of lawmakers was chaired by Sens. Patty Murray of Washington and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan.
The abortion pill is dead after the Supreme Court’s decision last June, Roe v. to overthrow Wade has become the focal point of the litigation over access to abortion. Major retailers in the US have been thrust into the midst of the nation’s deep divisions over abortion as they weigh whether to sell mifepristone.
Twelve states have banned abortion, and several others have stricter restrictions on mifepristone than federal regulations, creating a patchwork legal landscape in which those who support and oppose abortion argue over whether FDA authority or state law takes precedence.
When combined with another drug called misoprostol, mifepristone is the most common method of terminating a pregnancy in the United States, accounting for about half of all abortions.
Walgreens under fire
Walgreens, CV And rite aid said in January that they plan to get FDA certification to sell mifepristone in states where it’s legal. Republican attorneys general in 21 states warned the Walgreens and CVS not to ship mifepristone in their states in early February.
Walgreens has come under fire after telling GOP attorneys general it would not sell mifepristone in their states. The drugstore’s response sparked controversy, as the company also doesn’t sell the drug in states like Kansas, where abortion is protected by the state constitution. A state court in November blocked a law requiring patients to take mifepristone in the same room as a doctor.
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The senators accused Walgreens CEO Roz Brewer of giving in to pressure from attorneys general and accused the company of creating confusion by not selling mifepristone in some states where abortion is still legal.
“While we are aware of the threatening letters you have received regarding the distribution of mifepristone in certain states, the response to that pressure has been unacceptable and appeared to cave in to those threats – ignoring the critical need to ensure patients receive this vital health care.” preserved wherever possible,” the senators wrote.
The senators also urged Karen Lynch, CEO of CVS Health, and Elizabeth Burr, CEO of Rite Aid, not to follow Walgreen’s lead, urging them to “fully review the laws in every state and make sure your policies comply with the.” provide the widest possible legal access to this essential healthcare”.
California terminates contract
California Gov. Gavin Newsom said last week that the state government would no longer do business with Walgreens because of its stance on mifepristone. The state announced the renewal of a $54 million contract for specialty prescription drugs used primarily by the state prison system.
Walgreens spokesman Fraser Engerman said the company was deeply disappointed by Newsom’s decision and plans to sell mifepristone where it is legal, including California.
“Walgreens is facing the same circumstances as all retail pharmacies, and no other retail pharmacy has said they would address this situation differently, so it’s unclear where this contract is moving now,” Engerman said.
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