CVS and Walgreens get ready to dispense abortion pill


Experts claim efficacy is high, risk is low

The two largest pharmacy chains in the U.S. – Walgreens and CVS – have indicated they have received FDA certification to dispense mifepristone, one of the two drugs used in a medication abortion, in states where it is legal. 

The chains are playing the odds that, despite an ever-changing landscape of abortion laws and legal battles over reproductive rights, there’s enough going for the approval’s possibility that they want to be ready if and when it happens.

So, while CVS and Walgreens may have the certification, they won't be able to sell it everywhere, only in these states to begin:

Walgreens: New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, California, and Illinois. 

CVS: Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Walmart and Target, the other two largest pharmacy chains, have yet to announce similar measures. 

How mifepristone works and its risks

Mifepristone was first approved more than two decades ago, and when used in combination with misoprostol, can end a pregnancy up to the first 10 weeks of gestation. It works by blocking progesterone, the hormone necessary for pregnancy to continue. 

The safety and efficacy of mifepristone are well-documented, and it is also prescribed to women who experience early pregnancy miscarriages to expel any fetal remains and residual pregnancy tissue from the womb.

The risks associated with mifepristone are considered to be low, as well. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists maintains that mifepristone is safe and effective. However – like many other medications – the drug does have side effects such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

The drug comes with the White House’s vote of approval

“Many women in America will soon have the choice to pick up their prescription at a local pharmacy. This is an important step to ensure women have access to the health care they need,” Vice-President Kamala Harris said.

“Our Administration will not waver in our dedication to preserving access to essential medication and defending the FDA’s independent, evidence-based approval and regulation of safe and effective drugs.”

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