CVS seeks to vet drugs for possible abortion use

July 22, 2022 — CVS Health is asking pharmacists in some states to verify that some of the prescriptions they provide will not be used to terminate a pregnancy, according to The Associated Press.

The retail chain recently began this verification process for methotrexate and misoprostol, which are two medications used for medical abortion when taken together, but which can also treat other conditions.

The policy began during the first week of July in Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Oklahoma and Texas, CVS Health spokesman Mike DeAngelis told the AP.

DeAngelis said state laws that restrict the distribution of drugs used for abortions prompted the company to launch the new policy. He noted that some of the laws carry criminal penalties, the AP reported.

The move follows the Supreme Court’s decision last month to overturn Roe v. Wade, the AP reported. The decision is expected to lead to abortion bans in about half of the United States, with medical abortion often included in restrictions in some states.

CVS Health asks healthcare providers to help with this verification process by including their diagnosis on prescriptions, the AP reported. DeAngelis said CVS Health will still fill prescriptions for miscarriages or ectopic pregnancies, which 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 told the AP.

The Supreme Court ruling has drawn pharmacies into the national abortion debate. Earlier this month, the Biden administration reminded pharmacies of federal laws that prohibit discrimination based on disability or gender, including pregnancy status.

The Biden administration’s guidelines noted that examples of discrimination could include a pharmacy refusing to fill a prescription for mifepristone for a first-trimester miscarriage or misoprostol prescribed for chronic stomach ulcers.

Additionally, methotrexate is often used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and several types of cancer as standard immunosuppressive therapy.

On social media, patients have complained in recent weeks that pharmacies have refused to fill prescriptions for these drugs, particularly methotrexate and misoprostol, for conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.

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