By Kelsey Butler | Bloomberg
Choix will begin selling abortion pills to people who aren’t pregnant so they can stockpile them for future use, the reproductive health-care startup announced on Wednesday.
The San Francisco Bay Area company will only offer the service, also known as “advanced provision,” in US states where it’s licensed to operate — California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine and New Mexico — all of which currently allow abortion.
“Abortion is so highly stigmatized and politicized that people accessing abortion care, even in states where it is legal, come to us with this additional feeling of anxiety about whether they will be allowed to get an abortion,” said Choix Chief Executive Officer Cindy Adam. “Advanced provision really helps alleviate that stress and puts power back in the hands of the person seeking care.”
Choix sells the two pill cocktail on a sliding scale for anywhere between $175 and $289. To receive the medication, patients have to fill out a questionnaire that scans for allergies or conditions that would make the treatment inadvisable. They then sign consent forms before pills are shipped out along with educational materials, Adam said. When patients ultimately need to use the pills, they can get a telehealth consultation with a Choix medical provider up to 11 weeks of pregnancy. Choix limits each patient to one prescription until the pills have been used or the kit has expired. Mifepristone has a shelf life of about 5 years and misoprostol, the other pill in the regimen, stays fresh for about 2 years. The company’s forms ask patients to confirm the’ll only use it for themselves.
More than half of all abortions in the US are done using pills, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that backs abortion rights. In 2020, the median patient cost for medication abortion was $560. Late last year, the Food and Drug Administration made permanent a pandemic-era rule that allowed mifepristone to be sent via mail. Many states, however, restrict how the pill can be prescribed and distributed. Nineteen states require a physician to be present when pills are administered.
In a December editorial, researchers at the University of California San Francisco argued for more widespread availability of “advanced provision” for the abortion pill in the US. “We see advance provision of medication abortion as an important addition to the menu of options people should have to access early abortion safely,” the researchers wrote.
In June, Choix, French for “choice,” said it had raised $1 million in venture funding. The startup has provided abortion care to over 5,000 people, Adam said.
The company joins a range of services and nonprofits offering medication abortion by mail. Aid Access, which sends pills to a patient’s home from overseas, started providing advance provision in the US late last year. Meanwhile, Hey Jane, another venture capital-backed telehealth company that mails abortion medication, has raised $3.6 million in seed funding.
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