July 22, 2022 — CVS Health is asking pharmacists in some states to verify that some of the prescriptions they provide won’t be used to end a pregnancy, according to The Associated Press.
The retail chain recently began this verification process for methotrexate and misoprostol, which are two drugs used for medication abortion when taken together but can also treat other conditions.
The policy started during the first week of July in Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Oklahoma and Texas, Mike DeAngelis, a spokesman for CVS Health, told the AP.
DeAngelis said state laws that restrict the dispensing of medications used for abortions prompted the company to start the new policy. He noted that some of the laws carry criminal penalties, the AP reported.
The move comes as a result of the Supreme Court ruling last month to overturn Roe v. Wade, the AP reported. The decision is expected to lead to abortion bans in about half of the U.S., with medication abortion often included in some states’ restrictions.
CVS Health is asking health care providers to help with this verification process by including their diagnosis on the 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 delivering care to our patients while complying with state laws and federal guidance that continues to evolve,” DeAngelis told the AP.
The Supreme Court decision has pulled pharmacies into the national debate about abortion. Earlier this month, the Biden administration reminded pharmacies about federal laws that prohibit discrimination based on disability or gender, including pregnancy status.
The Biden administration’s guidance noted that examples of discrimination could include a pharmacy that declines to fill a prescription for mifepristone for first-trimester miscarriage or misoprostol prescribed for chronic stomach ulcers.
In addition, methotrexate is often used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and several types of cancer as a standard immunosuppressive treatment.
Across social media, patients have posted complaints in recent weeks that pharmacies have refused to fill prescriptions for these medications, particularly methotrexate and misoprostol, for health conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.
The Associated Press: “CVS seeks verification on drugs with possible abortion use.”
Department of Health and Human Services: “Guidance to Nation’s Retail Pharmacies: Obligations under Federal Civil Rights Laws to Ensure Access to Comprehensive Reproductive Health Care Services.”
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