Democratic AG sues FDA over abortion pill bans

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Boxes of mifepristone, the first pill offered in medical abortion, are prepared for patients at the Women’s Reproductive Clinic of New Mexico in Santa Teresa, U.S., Jan. 13, 2023.

Evelyn Hochstein | reuters

A coalition of a dozen Democratic attorneys general sued the Food and Drug Administration on Friday to force the agency to drop all remaining restrictions on the abortion pill, the latest case in a growing series of legal battles over access to the drug.

The attorney general asked a federal court in the Eastern District of Washington to declare that the abortion pill, mifepristone, is safe and effective and that all remaining restrictions on the drug are unconstitutional.

The trial was led by Attorney General Bob Ferguson of Washington State and AG Ellen Rosenblum of Oregon. The attorneys general of Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Rhode Island and Vermont were also part of the suit.

The attorney general also asked the court to restrain the FDA from taking any action that would remove mifepristone from the market or reduce its availability.

Used in combination with misoprostol, mifepristone is the most common method of terminating pregnancy in the US, accounting for about half of all abortions.

The lawsuit filed Friday puts the FDA in the middle of the nation’s deep division over access to abortion in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade last summer.

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A coalition of physicians opposed to abortion is suing the FDA in federal court in Texas to overturn the agency’s approval of mifepristone, which is more than 20 years old, and pull the drug out of the US market.

The FDA approved mifepristone in 2000, but placed restrictions on the way the drug is delivered. The agency has gradually eased those restrictions while dropping the in-person dispensing requirement.

But still some rules exist.

In January, the FDA allowed retail pharmacies to dispense mifepristone if they went through the certification process. The patient must obtain a prescription from a health care provider who is certified under the federal program that monitors mifepristone.

Certified pharmacies may ship the pill by mail, but they must use shipping services that provide tracking information, according to the FDA.

cvs And Walgreens has stated that they are going through the certification process, but that they will only distribute mifepristone where it is legal to do so under both state and federal law. At least 12 states have banned abortion, with few exceptions, and other states have tighter restrictions on the drug than the FDA requires.

The Republican attorney general has warned CVS and Walgreens against shipping mifepristone to their states.

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