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CVS and Walgreens to start selling mifepristone, an abortion pill, this month

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A container containing boxes of mifepristone, the first drug used in medical abortion, is prepared for patients at Alamo Women’s Clinic in Carbondale, Illinois, April 20, 2023.

Evelyn Hockstein | Reuters

CVS And Walgreens will start selling the abortion pill mifepristone this month at certain times pharmacy locations in states where it is legal to do so, company spokespeople told CNBC on Friday.

CVS and Walgreens received certificate from the United States Food and Drug Administration to distribute the commonly used pill in their retail pharmacies, spokespeople for each company said in separate statements.

CVS will begin filling prescriptions for the drug in Massachusetts and Rhode Island in the coming weeks, a company spokesperson said. They added that CVS would expand to other states, “where permitted by law, on an ongoing basis.”

Walgreens plans to begin dispensing prescriptions for the pill within a week at select pharmacies in New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, California and Illinois, a company spokesperson said.

Notably, the chains will not provide medications by mail. The New York Times reported the news earlier Friday.

Mifepristone is the first pill used in the two-drug abortion regimen.

The FDA is confronting anti-abortion doctors in an unprecedented legal challenge to its more than two-decade-old approval of mifepristone. An anti-abortion group sued the agency in 2022 in an effort to declare the approval illegal and remove the pill from the U.S. market altogether.

On March 26, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in this closely watched case.

The FDA said in January that it would allow retail pharmacies to offer mifepristone for the first time in the United States.

Below a change in regulations At the agency, pharmacies can apply for certification to dispense the pill from one of two companies that manufacture it. This certification would allow pharmacies to dispense the drug directly to patients upon receipt of a prescription from a certified prescriber.

Before the FDA regulatory change, only a few mail-order pharmacies or specially certified physicians or clinics could distribute mifepristone.

The regulatory change could potentially expand access to abortion as the Biden administration grapples with how best to protect abortion rights. The right to abortion in the United States was greatly reduced by the Supreme Court’s 2022 decision to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.

The Biden administration has sought to make access to abortion and contraception a main platform of the 2024 presidential campaign.

Medical abortion is the most common method of terminating a pregnancy in the United States, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This method is approved by FDA for use up to 10 weeks of pregnancy.

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