Walgreens and CVS Will Carry Abortion Pills Soon—Here’s What You Should Know

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Written By Rivera Claudia

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Walgreens and CVS have officially received FDA certification to fulfill prescriptions for mifepristone, the first of two drugs needed for a medication abortion. Currently, the use of abortion pills accounts for more than half of all abortions in the United States.

Having the option to pick up mifepristone at these major pharmacies “could be a game-changer in post-Roe America, where 14 states have now banned abortion almost entirely,” Rabia Muqaddam, a senior staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights, tells SELF.

In the past, people who needed abortion care had to get mifepristone from certain mail-order pharmacies or certified clinics, medical offices, or hospitals. However, the FDA made a big regulatory change in January 2023: Pharmacies that agree to follow certain criteria are now allowed to dispense mifepristone in stores and by mail order.

Mifepristone is an oral drug that blocks a hormone called progesterone, which the body needs to continue a pregnancy. It’s usually followed by misoprostol, a drug that causes the cervix to soften and dilate to help the body expel the pregnancy. (Both CVS and Walgreens already dispense misoprostol.)

Abortion care is, sadly, still a hot-button topic—so this win for reproductive rights is bound to be a little sticky at first. Case in point: Certified medical providers will tell their patients which Walgreens locations to go to for their prescriptions, but this information won’t be easy to find on your own. “In the interests of pharmacist and patient safety, we will not disclose the number of sites per state nor identify the pharmacies that are dispensing [mifepristone],” Walgreens states on its site. (It’s unclear whether CVS will take the same approach.)

There are other restrictions to be aware of, too. Here’s what we know about how this will all shake out, plus what this means for the future of abortion care.

How do you get mifepristone at Walgreens and CVS?

Mifepristone will not be available over the counter, so you’ll still need to see a health care provider (either in-person or via telehealth) to receive a prescription for the medication. From there, your doctor should direct you to a Walgreens or CVS near you that will give you the medication. (Not sure where to go for an Rx? Search for clinics near you through Planned Parenthood here.)

Which states will offer mifepristone at Walgreens and CVS—and when will it be available?

The FDA’s regulatory change doesn’t override state laws. So if your state bans or severely limits abortion care, mifepristone won’t be available at your local Walgreens or CVS.

Both companies are working on gradual rollouts, so not all eligible pharmacies will be ready right away. In fact, CVS isn’t planning to have this service available anywhere for a few weeks. “We’re working with manufacturers and suppliers to secure the medication and are not yet dispensing it in any of our pharmacies,” a CVS spokesperson tells SELF via email. CVS plans to start filling mifepristone prescriptions in Massachusetts and Rhode Island in “the weeks ahead,” and will then expand to additional states, where it’s allowed by law, on a “rolling basis.”

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