Wyden, Merkley, Colleagues Press Walgreens, Put National Pharmacies on Notice to Ensure Mifepristone Access
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today announced they have joined colleagues in urging seven of the nation’s largest retail pharmacies to provide the strongest possible legal access to mifepristone for patients—and communicate clearly about their plans and policies.
In the letters sent this week to Walgreens, CVS Health, Rite Aid, Albertsons, Costco, Kroger, and Walmart, the senators request more information about the companies’ plans to provide customers access to mifepristone and underscore the importance of ensuring patients are able to get the safe and effective FDA-approved drug.
The letters come after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced in early January it was removing burdensome requirements and allowing retail pharmacies to dispense mifepristone directly to customers for the first time ever.
Following that announcement, Walgreens, CVS Health, and Rite Aid said they are pursuing certification to dispense mifepristone where legally able. Albertsons, Costco, Kroger, and Walmart have not announced plans to do so. But after more than 20 Republican Attorneys General sent threatening letters to the companies, Walgreens caused widespread confusion about its plans by appearing to cave to the threats, telling the Republican Attorneys General the company would not dispense mifepristone in their states and so far failing to provide greater clarity about its plans to provide customers access to the safe and effective FDA-approved medication.
In their letter to Walgreens, the senators called out the company’s confusing announcement about its plans to dispense mifepristone to customers, writing: “At a time of great confusion about abortion access, your company has done the disservice of adding to it.”
The senators demanded clarifying information about Walgreens’ plans to dispense mifepristone, and stated: “While we are well aware of threatening letters you received with regard to the distribution of mifepristone in certain states, the response to those pressures was unacceptable and appeared to yield to these threats—ignoring the critical need to ensure patients can get this essential health care wherever possible.”
“We ask that as you continue with the FDA certification process and fully comply with applicable state and federal law, it is critical that your company also provided the strongest possible access to this vital medication and communicate clearly about this,” the Senators added.
The letter was led by U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). In addition to Wyden and Merkley, other senators signing the letter are Senators Baldwin, Klobuchar, Cantwell, Schatz, Padilla, Blumenthal, Sanders, Cortez Masto, Reed, Whitehouse, Welch, Smith, and Duckworth.
Read their letter to Walgreens.
In letters to Albertstons, Costco, Kroger and Walmart, the senators expressed frustration that the companies have not yet announced their intention to dispense mifepristone at their pharmacies—and urged the companies to pursue policies to provide the strongest possible access to their customers.
“We write with great frustration that [your company] has not indicated whether it plans to allow your customers to access mifepristone through your pharmacies,” the senators wrote. “Pharmacists are one of the most trusted health care providers, and your customers rely on [your company] to help them access their prescribed medications. We look forward to hearing back from you about your intentions to ensure access to this critical FDA-approved product.”
The letter was led by Senators Murray and Stabenow. In addition to Wyden and Merkley, other senators signing the letter are Senators Baldwin, Klobuchar, Cantwell, Schatz, Padilla, Blumenthal, Sanders, Booker, Reed, Whitehouse, Welch, Smith, and Duckworth.
In letters to CVS Health and Rite Aid, the senators applauded the companies’ plan to seek certification to dispense mifepristone where able and urged them to ensure they provide the strongest possible legal access to the drug and communicate clearly about their plans to prevent confusion for customers.
“As you continue with the FDA certification process and fully comply with state and federal law, it is critical that your company also provide the strongest possible access to this vital medication and communicate clearly about this,” the Senators wrote to CVS Health and Rite Aid.
The letter was led by Senators Murray and Stabenow. In addition to Wyden and Merkley, other senators signing the letter are Senators Baldwin, Klobuchar, Cantwell, Schatz, Padilla, Blumenthal, Sanders, Cortez Masto, Booker, Reed, Whitehouse, Welch, and Smith.
In the aftermath of the Dobbs decision, access to medication abortion is more vital for patients than ever. Across the U.S., medication abortion is the most common way women get abortion care, and mifepristone is one of two drugs used in most medication abortion care. Approved by the FDA more than 20 years ago, mifepristone’s safety and efficacy has been affirmed time and again by scientific evidence, research, and clinical experience—in fact, it’s safer than Tylenol. But anti-choice activists and Republican elected officials have repeatedly sought to deny patients across the country access to the FDA-approved drug. In addition to threatening pharmacies seeking to dispense the drug legally, anti-choice activists have filed an unprecedented lawsuit to try to effectively ban the drug nationwide and have enacted bans and medically-unnecessary restrictions on mifepristone in a number of states.
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