Walgreens has issued seemingly contradictory statements about where it plans to dispense mifepristone, a pill used for medical abortions. Here’s what we can CHECK.
March 8 at the office of California Governor Gavin Newsom announced state government to end business with Walgreens over the company’s stance on the abortion pill mifepristone. The announcement comes after a growing number of people online, including the director Michael Moorecalled for a boycott of the company.
The outrage surrounding Walgreens started after letters from a Walgreens executive have been posted online saying the company would not provide the abortion pill mifepristone in some states where medical abortion is legal. This is mine not only caused protests from women’s rights groups, and others claim the company was pressured by conservative lawmakers, but that led to confusion about Walgreens’ policy on distributing the pills nationwide.
One tweet with more than four million views says Walgreens has decided to stop selling abortion pills only in GOP states. Other tweets believe that Walgreens has changed its policy on mifepristone more broadly.
In accordance with Google Trendspeople also searched if Walgreens has abortion pills and where they might be banned.
Does walgreens now distribute mifepristone?
No, Walgreens does not currently distribute mifepristone in any state.
WHAT WE FOUND
Mifepristone, along with misoprostol, are two drugs used for medical abortion. Taken consecutively during the first 10 weeks of pregnancy, they appear FDA approved to terminate pregnancy.
Previously, doctors had to give the pills directly to patients, rather than prescribing them at pharmacies, because of federal requirements. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) removed is a requirement in January that allows pharmacies with special certification to dispense prescription pills.
Walgreens applied to distribute mifepristone, but was not approved, and thus has not begun distributing the pills in any states, as some viral social media posts claim. Rite Help and CVS pharmacies said they also requested permission to distribute the abortion pill.
The controversy surrounding Walgreens stems from a letter written Feb. 1 and signed by 20 state attorneys general warning Walgreens that mail-order abortion pills are illegal in some states.
On Feb. 17, Walgreens responded with a letter to each of those 20 states assuring them that it would not provide the abortion pill in the state. The letter said Walgreens had not received approval to distribute the abortion pill through pharmacies or by mail order. It also stated, “Walgreens does not intend to dispense mifepristone in your state and does not intend to supply mifepristone to your state from any of our pharmacies. If that approach changes, we’ll be sure to let you know.”
This language was included in letters to state legislators where the abortion pill is legal, including Alaska, Montana, Iowa and Kansas. The Alaska House of Representatives Coalition, made up of several members of the state House of Representatives, wrote their own letter On March 6, Walgreens announced that the Alaska constitution makes medical abortion legal in the state.
“No company should voluntarily deny access to lifesaving drugs in response to the political demands of a few attorneys general, especially when those actions directly undermine constitutional rights in our state,” the letter from Alaska lawmakers said.
Same day, March 6, Walgreens issued a statement with an apparent clarification of their position on the abortion pill. The statement contradicts what was shown in the letters sent to the states, as it refers to states where medical abortion is currently legal.
“We want to make it very clear what our position has always been: Walgreens plans to dispense mifepristone in any jurisdiction where it is permitted by law. Once we receive FDA certification, we will release this drug in accordance with federal and state laws. Providing patients with legal medicines is what pharmacies do, and it is based on our commitment to the communities in which we work,” the statement said.
In order for Walgreens or any other pharmacy to become FDA certified, it must do so fill out the certification form from the pill manufacturer. In this case, a form must be filled out for Danco Laboratories and GenBioPro, the two manufacturers of mifepristone.
VERIFY reached out to Walgreens for further clarification on where it will stock the abortion pill and did not receive a response at the time of publication. VERIFY also reached out to the manufacturers, Rite Aid and CVS, and did not hear back.
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