Yesterday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued new regulations for mifepristone, a drug used in combination with misoprostol to terminate an early pregnancy, more commonly known as the abortion pill. The drug, which has been approved for use in the United States since 2000, is now able to be dispensed via telehealth and through a wider array of licensed pharmacies. This move comes in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade last year, leading to abortion access restrictions in many states.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists deem medication abortion in most cases safe up to 10 weeks of gestation, with numerous studies showing mifepristone is safe and effective, with few side effects. The drug has been subject to stringent restrictions, called the Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies (REMS). The FDA suspended enforcement of some of these restrictions during the pandemic, allowing continued access to abortion care.
The new rules are welcomed by advocates as a step in the right direction, though pharmacies will have to meet new certification requirements to dispense mifepristone and state-level restrictions still limit access for many. While the FDA’s move is seen as a positive step, more work is needed to ensure safe and affordable abortion access for all.