The U.S. Food and Drug Administration finalized a regulatory change on Tuesday that allows retail pharmacies to offer abortion pills.
Before now, patients could only get this two-drug medication through clinics, doctors and a handful of mail-order pharmacies.
Two companies that make the medication, Danco Laboratories and GenBioPro, announced the news after they were notified by the FDA of the change.
What this means
“At a time when people across the country are struggling to obtain abortion care services, this modification is critically important to expanding access to medication abortion services and will provide healthcare providers with an additional method for providing their patients with a safe and effective option for ending early pregnancy,” Danco said in a statement.
“Today’s FDA 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,” GenBioPro CEO Evan Masingill, which makes the generic version of mifepristone, told the New York Times.
Mifepristone is the first pill used in the abortion regimen, followed by misoprostol, which already had fewer restrictions. While mifepristone blocks a hormone the body needs for a pregnancy to develop, taking misoprostol about 24 to 48 hours later causes contractions.
Misoprostol is also used to treat many other medical conditions. Mifepristone is only approved for abortion, but it is also used to treat some miscarriages. Dozens of organizations, including medical groups, have petitioned the FDA to make the drug easier to access for miscarriages, the Times reported.
Patients will still need a doctor’s prescription to access the drugs, and pharmacies must follow certain rules to dispense the medication.
Abortion pills are used in more than half of U.S. pregnancy terminations, a recent report showed. They are now