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Walgreens warned by states not to distribute abortion pills

Twenty states with Republican attorneys general told major pharmacy chains that it is illegal in their states to distribute abortion pills.
Signs are seen in front of the Walgreens Deerfield headquarters during a protest over a plan to sell abortion pills.
Posted at 11:38 AM, Mar 03, 2023

Walgreens will not distribute abortion pills in 20 mainly Republican-leaning states after being warned by a group of attorneys general not to distribute the pills, according to multiple reports. 

Politico was first to report the decision Scripps News has reached out to Walgreens multiple times and is still awaiting a statement.

The attorneys general are at odds with both drug companies and the Biden administration over the legality of the pills. These attorneys general have fought the Biden administration over the distribution of such pills through the mail. 

Among the fights, a federal court case in Texas will weigh whether states have the authority to ban the pills from being sent to women through the mail.

"We're not taking this lightly," said White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. "We're taking this very seriously. This is going to be -- depending on where this goes, this could be unprecedented and uncharted territory. And we're going to continue to do our -- our work internally to see which way -- how we would respond."

According to the Food and Drug Administration,mifepristone is approved for use to terminate pregnancies up to 10 weeks into gestation. 

In January, the FDA updated its guidance on prescribing mifepristone that the drug can be issued without an in-person appointment. The ACLU, however, said the updated guidance didn't go far enough as it limits those who can prescribe the drug by those who meet certain qualifications.

A letter, obtained by Scripps News, sent by Walgreens last month to the Indiana Attorney General's Office says it is not currently selling mifepristone at any of its locations. Although Walgreens has said it intends to become a certified pharmacy under the FDA's new guidelines, Indiana would be among the states where mifepristone would be distributed. 

"As you know, to become certified by the FDA, participating pharmacies must satisfy a range of safety and risk mitigation requirements to dispense this drug. At this time, we are working through the certification process, which includes the evaluation of our pharmacy network to determine where we will dispense mifepristone and training protocols and updates for our pharmacists. Walgreens does not intend to dispense mifepristone within your state and does not intend to ship mifepristone into your state from any of our pharmacies," wrote Danielle C. Gray, executive vice president for Walgreens Boot Alliance.

 

The U.S. Supreme Court

Texas abortion pill ruling may impact reproductive rights nationwide

A debate over the drug mifepristone is happening in federal court in a case known as Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine vs. FDA.

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In addition to Walgreens, other major drug companies received letters from state attorneys general demanding they also not distribute abortion pills. 

Attorneys general from Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and West Virginia signed the letters.