Democrats ask Walmart, Costco, Albertsons and Kroger to sell mifepristone

In this 2018 photo, mifepristone and misoprostol pills are provided at a Carafem medical abortion clinic in Skokie, Illinois.

Erin Holey | Tribune News Service | Getty Images

Senate Democrats have called walmart, Costco, Albertson And Kroger to sell the abortion pill mifepristone on prescription, and to clearly indicate to customers how to obtain it in their pharmacies.

The companies have not yet publicly stated whether they plan to sell mifepristone in their pharmacies. In January, the Food and Drug Administration allowed retail pharmacies to sell the abortion pill as long as they are certified under a federal program that monitors how the drug is dispensed.

The 17 senators told Walmart CEO Doug McMillon, Costco CEO Craig Jelinek, Albertsons CEO Vivek Sankaran and Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen that they were frustrated that the companies have not yet publicly indicated whether they sell mifepristone. In letters dated Monday but made public Tuesday, they asked CEOs to respond by March 21 if they plan to seek certification from the FDA to distribute the drug.

Strong access

“We urge you to pursue policies that provide the best possible access to the full range of essential health care they need, including mifepristone, and to communicate clearly to your clients about how they can access this care. “, wrote the senators to the CEOs. The group of legislators was led by the senses. Patty Murray of Washington and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan.

The abortion pill became the focal point of the legal battle over abortion access following the Supreme Court’s decision last June to overturn Roe v. Wade. Major retailers in the United States have been pushed amid the country’s deep divisions over abortion as they debate whether to sell mifepristone.

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Twelve states have banned abortion and several others have stricter restrictions on mifepristone than federal regulations, creating a patchwork legal landscape where those who support and oppose abortion fight over whether the authority of the FDA or state law reigns supreme.

Used in combination with another drug called misoprostol, mifepristone is the most common way to end a pregnancy in the United States, accounting for about half of all abortions.

Walgreens under fire

Walgreens, SVC And Ritual Aid said in January that it plans to seek certification from the FDA to sell mifepristone in states where it is legal to do so. Republican attorneys general in 21 states warned Walgreens and CVS in early February not to send mifepristone to their states.

Walgreens came under fire after telling GOP attorneys general that it would not sell mifepristone in their states. The pharmacy’s response has sparked controversy because the company also doesn’t sell the drug in states like Kansas, where abortion is protected by the state constitution. A state court blocked a law in November that required patients to take mifepristone in the same room as a doctor.

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The senators accused Walgreens CEO Roz Brewer of bowing to pressure from attorneys general and accused the company of causing confusion by not selling mifepristone in some states where abortion remains legal.

“While we are well aware of the threatening letters you have received regarding the distribution of mifepristone in some states, the response to these pressures was unacceptable and appeared to yield to these threats – ignoring the critical need to ensure that patients can obtain this essential health care to the extent possible,” the senators wrote.

The senators also called on CVS Health CEO Karen Lynch and Rite Aid CEO Elizabeth Burr not to follow Walgreens’ lead, urging them to “fully assess each state’s laws and ensure that your policies provide the strongest possible legal access to this essential health care.”

California cancels its contract

California Governor Gavin Newsom said last week that the state government would no longer do business with Walgreens because of its stance on mifepristone. The state canceled the renewal of a $54 million contract for specialty prescription drugs primarily used by the state prison system.

Walgreens spokesman Fraser Engerman said the company is deeply disappointed with Newsom’s decision and is considering selling mifepristone where it is legal to do so, including California.

“Walgreens faces the same circumstances as all retail pharmacies, and no other retail pharmacy has said they will approach this situation differently, so it is unclear where this contract will now transfer,” Engerman said. .

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