CVS seeks clarification on possible abortifacient drugs

A CVS Health product is displayed in a store. CVS Health requires pharmacists in certain states, including Oklahoma, to verify that some of the prescriptions it provides will not be used to terminate a pregnancy. A spokesperson said the pharmacy chain had recently started doing so for methotrexate and misoprostol, two drugs used in medical abortions but also to treat other conditions. (AP File Photo/Elise Amendola)

CVS Health requires pharmacists in certain states to verify that some of the prescriptions they provide will not be used to terminate a pregnancy.

A spokesperson said Thursday that the pharmacy chain had recently started doing so for methotrexate and misoprostol, two drugs used in medical abortions but also to treat other conditions.

Spokesman Mike DeAngelis said the policy began the first week of July in Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Oklahoma and Texas.

The drugstore chain’s request comes after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned it last month Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 decision that provided for a constitutional right to abortion. The ruling is expected to lead to abortion bans in about half of the states.

DeAngelis said state laws that restrict the distribution of drugs used for abortions forced the company to begin validations. He noted that some of the laws carry criminal penalties.

The pharmacy chain, based in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, is asking healthcare providers to help by including their diagnosis on prescriptions.

DeAngelis said CVS Health will still fill prescriptions for miscarriages or ectopic pregnancies, which develop outside the uterus and are not viable.

“We will continue to focus on providing care to our patients while adhering to state laws and federal guidelines that continue to evolve,” DeAngelis said in an email.

The Supreme Court’s decision has placed pharmacies at the center of an intense national debate. Earlier this month, the Biden administration warned pharmacies not to discriminate against women on the prescriptions they seek.

The administration noted that examples of discrimination could include a pharmacy refusing to fill a prescription for misoprostol prescribed to help treat a severe stomach ulcer.

Methotrexate is also used to treat several types of cancers as well as rheumatoid arthritis, according to the Mayo Clinic.

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