The sole U.S. distributor of the abortion drug mifepristone may soon reduce its distribution to half of U.S. states.
AmerisourceBergen, based just outside of Philadelphia, sent customers a list of 31 states it would no longer source the drug from.
It is the only company in America that supplies the drug. This means that the decision will have a considerable impact on access to abortion in the states concerned.
The company supplies mifepristone to drugstore giant Walgreens, which last week promised 21 Republican-run states that it would not distribute the pills. It’s unclear to what extent the AmerisourceBergen decision impacted Walgreens.
It comes as mifepristone finds itself at the center of a landmark abortion rights case, as anti-abortion campaigners hope its regulatory approval will be withdrawn – banning it nationwide.
Medical abortion has been a lifeline for women in blue states and even red states since the Supreme Court struck down the federal abortion guarantee
More than a dozen states restricted access to abortions following the overthrow of Roe V Wade
The company told Vox media that the situation is “dynamic” and “constantly changing”.
Mifepristone is half of the combination used to induce medical abortion.
When used in combination with misoprostol, a medicine for stomach ulcers, it has been shown to be safe and effective in terminating a pregnancy within the first 10 weeks.
Medical abortions make up the majority of abortions performed after the Supreme Court’s decision to revoke federal protections for the procedure last summer.
In early 2023, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) decided that pharmacies could fill prescriptions for the pills.
Since then, CVS and Walgreens — among the two largest U.S. drugstore chains — have both revealed plans to distribute the drugs after clearing regulatory hurdles.
Walgreens, which has nearly 9,000 stores in the United States, announced last week that it would no longer distribute the drug in 21 states, angering abortion advocates.
State GOP attorneys sent letters to CVS, Rite Aid, Albertsons, Costco, Kroger and Walmart urging them to make such a move.
In response, Danielle Gray from the Walgreens legal team said: ‘As you know, in order to be certified by the FDA, participating pharmacies must meet a series of safety and risk mitigation requirements to distribute this medication.
“Right now we are working on the certification process, which includes evaluating our pharmacy network to determine where we will distribute mifepristone and training protocols and updates for our pharmacists.”
It’s unclear whether those same pressures also fueled the AmerisourceBergen decision, or what communication the company had with GOP officials.
It is unclear whether the list of 31 states that will not receive the pills is still valid.
The distributor did not respond to a DailyMail.com request for comment.
Walgreens, meanwhile, reaffirmed to DailyMail.com that it will distribute mifepristone in all states where abortion is legal as soon as it is certified to do so according to FDA requirements.
Previously, mifepristone could only be dispensed by a doctor in person at a subset of specialist practices and clinics for safety reasons.
Despite expanded regulatory access to mifepristone, a contentious legal battle in Texas is currently threatening its availability in the United States.
U.S. District Court Judge for the Northern District of Texas, Matthew Kacsmaryk, is expected to decide any day now whether or not mifepristone, the first part of a two-pill drug regimen, will lose FDA approval. .
Mifepristone is taken first and works by dilating the cervix and blocking the effects of the hormone progesterone, which is needed to maintain a pregnancy.
About 24 hours later, the patient takes misoprostol, a drug used to treat stomach ulcers that causes the uterus to cramp and contract, causing bleeding and expulsion of pregnancy tissue.
Judge Kacsmaryk, an appointee of former President Donald Trump who aligned himself closely with far-right ideology.
The case in question is the Hippocratic Medicine Alliance v. the US FDA, first filed late last year challenging the FDA’s 2000 approval of Mifeprex.
It was filed by the anti-abortion group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF).
The group argues that the safety of the drug was not properly checked when it was approved 23 years ago.
The ADF also argues that the drug’s approval is nullified by the Comstock Act of 1873 – which prohibits the sale of immoral or indecent products by mail.
They argue that the law should make it illegal to mail the drug, and that FDA approval to do so should be removed.
A decision to revoke FDA approval would almost certainly be appealed immediately by abortion rights activists.
But, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals that would weigh the case is also very politically conservative.