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  • Writer's pictureLindsay Wall, PharmD, RPh

Accessing Abortion Pills at Community Pharmacies

Did you know that since 2020 over half of all people who get abortions in the United States use pills? Abortion pills are safe and estimated to be between 95% and 99% effective. They can also be taken in the comfort and privacy of your own home.

Recent laws have opened the door for eligible community pharmacies to fill prescriptions for abortion pills. Learn more about the latest regulations and how to access abortion pills at your local pharmacy today!

Pill Abortions: Two Options

The key difference between pill and surgical abortions is that surgical abortions must be performed in a clinical setting, while pill abortions can be conducted at home. There are two types of pill abortions available.

One option includes taking two sets of pills over two consecutive days. The first is mifepristone, which stops the production of progesterone, and the second is misoprostol, which triggers uterus contractions.1

The other option is the misoprostol-only abortion method that has also been shown to be effective.2 Mifepristone is currently becoming more heavily regulated, misoprostol-only pill abortions may increase in popularity.

A Brief History of Pill Abortions in the U.S.

Pill abortions have only been available in the United States (U.S.) since 2000.3 Although misoprostol-only abortions have been practiced around the world for decades, they are a newer reality here. According to World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations, doctors, physician assistants, and advanced practice nurses can safely administer abortion pills.3

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Aid Access, an Austrian nonprofit organization, sent thousands of women in the U.S. misoprostol-only abortion pills in the mail. Today, they continue to provide pills, along with Carafem, a U.S. abortion provider. This has helped raise awareness and given people greater control over their reproductive health and safely end a pregnancy at home.

More recently, in January 2023, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (F.D.A.) lifted a ban, so that retail and community pharmacies can now offer abortion pills.4 This decision ended the requirement that patients must meet with a physician in person to get prescribed mifepristone.

How Can I Access Abortion Pills from My Community Pharmacy?

Currently, healthcare providers must be certified to treat patients seeking an abortion and patients must complete a consent form. This means, in states where it is legally permitted, patients may get a pill abortion prescription via a telehealth appointment, online form, or phone call.

To be eligible to dispense abortion pills, retail and community pharmacies must complete a manufacturer certification form. CNN reports that CVS and Walgreens have announced plans to apply for certification in eligible states. At this time, patients will need a prescription from a certified healthcare provider to pick up abortion pills from a certified pharmacy.5

Resources for Patients

The guidelines and regulations for pharmacies are continually evolving, so it is important to stay up to date with the present landscape in your state. Certain states that currently have a near-full abortion ban do not permit pharmacies to dispense the medication.

For more information about current legislation in your state, check out the Guttmacher Institute tracker. You can also find out how to access abortion pills through Plan C.*

Resources for Pharmacists

If you are a pharmacist interested in learning more about how you can fill pill abortion prescriptions, a 1-hour, virtual Continuing Pharmacy Education (CPE) credit is available through Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH).

Learn More About Accessing Abortion Pills at Local Pharmacies

To find out how to access abortion pills at your community pharmacy, speak with your healthcare provider and stay up to date with the latest laws and regulations. If you would like to read more information, check out the resources below!

Resources & References

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