Walgreens said Thursday that California Gov. Gavin Newsom is unfairly targeting the pharmacy over plans for dispensing abortion pills in other states that it says are no different than those of its competitors.
Newsom this week said California “won’t be doing business with Walgreens — or any company that cowers to the extremists and puts women’s lives at risk” after the pharmacy indicated last week it would not dispense abortion pills 21 states where attorneys general warned they would consider it illegal.
Newsom’s office Wednesday announced the state won’t renew a contract for “specialty pharmacy prescription drugs” mostly used by the state’s correctional health care system that has paid Walgreens $54 million as part of an ongoing “review of all contracts between the state and Walgreens.” Newsom said California will “will explore other options for furnishing the same services.”
Walgreens said in a statement Thursday that “we are deeply disappointed by the decision by the state of California not to renew our longstanding contract due to false and misleading information.”
“Walgreens is facing the same circumstances as all retail pharmacies,” the statement continued, “and no other retail pharmacies have said that they would approach this situation differently, so it’s unclear where this contract would now be moved.”
The dispute is over mifepristone, part of a two-drug cocktail that has been prescribed for early-term abortions in the U.S. since the Food and Drug Administration approved its use in 2000. It is used in more than half of U.S. abortions.
Since the U.S. Supreme Court last year overturned the Roe v. Wade decision 50 years ago that had created a constitutional right to abortion, abortion rights activists have seen the pill as a means of maintaining access for those in states that are now free to ban or impose more restrictions on the procedure.
The Food and Drug Administration in January expanded rules to let retail pharmacies dispense the pills after completing a certification process, which would make mifepristone available not only at those stores but online by mail. Walgreens was among pharmacies going through the certification process.
“Our position has always been that, once we are certified by the FDA, Walgreens plans to dispense Mifepristone in any jurisdiction where it is legally permissible to do so, including the state of California,” the company said in its Thursday statement.
Mike DeAngelis, executive director of corporate communications for CVS, which received similar warnings from the state attorneys general, said Thursday that “we plan to seek certification to dispense mifepristone where legally permissible” and that “we don’t have additional details to share at this time.”
Rite Aid said in a statement Tuesday that it “is monitoring the latest federal, state, legal and regulatory developments regarding mifepristone dispensing and we will continue to evaluate the company’s ability to dispense mifepristone in accordance with those developments.”
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