HHS: Pharmacists Cannot Deny Patients Legally Prescribed Abortion Drugs

The Biden administration said Wednesday that retail pharmacies and pharmacists must provide patients with the drugs they have been legally prescribed, even if they can be used during an abortion.

The advice given to about 60,000 retail pharmacies by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) comes amid reports of pharmacists turning away women seeking abortion drugs, or even drugs used primarily for treat other conditions but which can cause abortions.

“The Department is committed to improving maternal health, including for people who experience miscarriages, and vigorous enforcement of our civil rights laws is one of the ways we plan to achieve this. “, say the guidelines.

Senior HHS officials said civil rights laws, including provisions of the Affordable Care Act, require pharmacists and pharmacies that receive federal funding to provide prescribed medications.

This may include mifepristone, used in combination with misoprostol, to help with a first trimester miscarriage. These drugs are also used in medical abortion, which is now illegal in some states following the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade.

In another example, the agency said pharmacists must dispense methotrexate, a drug commonly used to treat rheumatoid arthritis or other autoimmune diseases. The drug is also used off-label to terminate ectopic pregnancies.

If the pharmacy refuses to fill the individual’s prescription or does not stock methotrexate because of its other uses, it could violate the patient’s civil rights, officials said.

“HHS is making a very clear line here on federal law,” a senior agency official told reporters. “This is meant to remind people of their obligation when they receive federal funding and to remind people of their obligations under federal civil rights laws.”

“HHS is committed to ensuring that people can access reproductive health care without discrimination,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement.

A senior official told reporters that the guidelines “help take a step in that direction by helping to provide patients, providers, pharmacists and pharmacies with the assurance that federal law can help protect that access to care.” .

The guidelines follow President Biden’s executive order on reproductive health issued Friday and come as the White House fends off criticism for its seemingly slow response to the Supreme Court’s decision in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case, which annulled the constitutional right to abortion established by Chevreuil.

Earlier this week, the White House reminded doctors and hospitals that they must obey federal law and offer abortions in medical emergencies and the patient’s health or life is at risk, regardless of the condition. state law.

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