FDA said Tuesday that community pharmacies can dispense the drugs used for medication abortion. Previously, the drugs were only available at clinics, directly from physicians, or from mail-order pharmacies. The agency announced its intention to update prescribing protocols for mifepristone, the first drug used in the regimen for medication abortions, a year ago. Tuesday’s action, described in an update to part of the FDA website, strengthened a change implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic that increased telehealth access to medication abortions. Additionally, FDA said it would permit certain pharmacies to dispense the drugs directly. The new rules still require patients to have a prescription from a certified health care provider; however, any pharmacy that agrees to accept the prescriptions and follow other criteria may dispense the medications both in-store and through the mail. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) said in a statement that FDA’s decision is an “important step forward in securing access to medication abortion.” Iffath Abbasi Hoskins, ACOG’s president, said: “This change will empower patients who choose medication abortion to have the option of going to a pharmacy for immediate care rather than waiting for a mail order, if that is right for them.” The agency’s move will likely sharpen the debate over abortion access, and the intensifying battles in some states could affect how many pharmacies choose to participate in the program. A CVS spokesperson said Tuesday the company is “reviewing FDA’s updated Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) drug safety program certification requirements for mifepristone to determine the requirements to dispense in states that do not restrict the dispensing of medications prescribed for elective termination of pregnancy.” A Walgreens spokesperson noted the company is also evaluating the changes, saying: “We look forward to reviewing FDA’s announcement and Mifepristone REMS program, and we will continue to enable our pharmacists to dispense medications consistent with federal and state law.” (Read More) – May Require Paid Subscription