Walgreens, CVS to begin selling abortion pills. What to know in New York

New Yorkers will soon be able to buy abortion pills at select Walgreens stores as the pharmacy giant, as well as CVS Health, begins dispensing the mifepristone abortion pill in some states.

The newly expanded access to the abortion pill comes after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved its sale at CVS and Walgreens pharmacies. Patients will still need a prescription but will no longer be required to pick it up in person at a doctor's office or clinic.

CVS stores in New York were not included in that pharmacy chains initial rollout of the abortion pills, but CVS has said it plans to add more states in the future.

Which Walgreens in NY will sell abortion pills?

Certified medical providers will be able to direct patients to locations to pick up their abortion pill prescriptions, Walgreens said in a statement Friday.

"But in the interests of pharmacist and patient safety, (Walgreens) will not disclose the number of sites per state nor identify the pharmacies that are dispensing," the pharmacy chain noted.

Mifepristone is used with another medication called misoprostol to end a pregnancy that is less than 70 days developed. The pills are taken about two days apart.
Mifepristone is used with another medication called misoprostol to end a pregnancy that is less than 70 days developed. The pills are taken about two days apart.

If a prescription is received at a non-certified Walgreens in an active state, Walgreens team members will assist the patient to locate an alternate pharmacy that is able to dispense the medication, the statement added.

Walgreens will begin selling the abortion pill in New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, California and Illinois.

The initial abortion pill sales at CVS stores included Rhode Island and Massachusetts before adding other states, the chain told media outlets Friday.

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What about independent pharmacies?

Independent pharmacies have also expressed interest in dispensing the abortion pill, according to the National Community Pharmacists Association, which represents about 19,400 independent pharmacies nationwide.

These pharmacies must go through the FDA certification process that CVS and Walgreens have completed.

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What is REMS?

A Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) is a drug safety program that the FDA requires for certain medications with safety concerns to help ensure the benefits of a medication outweigh its risks, Walgreens noted.

The FDA modified the mifepristone REMS program in January 2023 to remove the restriction that did not allow mifepristone to be dispensed from retail pharmacies.

What is mifepristone?

The mifepristone pill is used to begin the process to terminate an early pregnancy. the drug is used to dilate the cervix and block the hormone needed to sustain a pregnancy.

While mifepristone is followed up with a second medication called misoprostol that causes the uterus to contract and expel tissue, the FDA rule only applies to the first drug.

Bailey Schulz of USA TODAY contributed to this report.

This article originally appeared on Rockland/Westchester Journal News: Walgreens, CVS to begin selling abortion pill mifepristone. UWhat to know in NY