WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) joined Senators Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and 15 of their colleagues in sending letters to the nation’s largest pharmacies—including Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid, Albertsons, Costco, Kroger, Walmart—urging them to ensure their policies provide the strongest possible legal access to mifepristone, an FDA-approved abortion medication.
In their letters, the lawmakers ask companies to fully assess the laws in each state they operate in and ensure their policies provide the widest legal access to critical patient care, as well as clarify how they will inform customers about access to the medication.
In their letter to Walgreens, the Senators called out the company’s confusing announcement about its plans to dispense mifepristone to customers, writing: “At a time of great confusion about abortion access, your company has done the disservice of adding to it.”
The Senators demanded clarifying information about Walgreens’ plans to dispense mifepristone, and rebuked the company for caving to extremist demands: “While we are well aware of threatening letters you received with regard to the distribution of mifepristone in certain states, the response to those pressures was unacceptable and appeared to yield to these threats—ignoring the critical need to ensure patients can get this essential health care wherever possible.”
“As you continue with the FDA certification process and fully comply with state and federal law, it is critical that your company also provides the strongest possible access to this vital medication and communicates clearly about this,” the Senators added.
Senators Baldwin, Klobuchar, Cantwell, Merkley, Schatz, Padilla, Blumenthal, Sanders, Wyden, Cortez Masto, Reed, Whitehouse, Welch, Smith, and Duckworth joined Senators Murray and Stabenow in sending the letter to Walgreens.
In letters to Albertsons, Costco, Kroger, and Walmart, the Senators expressed frustration that the companies have not yet announced their intention to dispense mifepristone at their pharmacies—and urged the companies to pursue policies to provide the strongest possible access to their customers.
“We write with great frustration that [your company] has not indicated whether it plans to allow your customers to access mifepristone through your pharmacies,” the Senators stated. “Pharmacists are one of the most trusted health care providers, and your customers rely on [your company] to help them access their prescribed medications. We look forward to hearing back from you about your intentions to ensure access to this critical FDA-approved product.”
Senators Baldwin, Klobuchar, Cantwell, Merkley, Schatz, Padilla, Blumenthal, Sanders, Wyden, Booker, Reed, Whitehouse, Welch, Smith, and Duckworth joined Senators Murray and Stabenow in sending the letters to the companies.
In letters to CVS Health and Rite Aid, the Senators applauded the companies’ plan to seek certification to dispense mifepristone where able and urged them to ensure they provide the strongest possible legal access to the drug and communicate clearly about their plans to prevent confusion for customers.
“As you continue with the FDA certification process and fully comply with state and federal law, it is critical that your company also provide the strongest possible access to this vital medication and communicate clearly about this,” the Senators wrote.
Senators Baldwin, Klobuchar, Cantwell, Merkley, Schatz, Padilla, Blumenthal, Sanders, Wyden, Cortez Masto, Booker, Reed, Whitehouse, Welch, and Smith joined Senators Murray and Stabenow in sending the letters to the companies.
In the aftermath of the Dobbs decision, access to medication abortion is more vital for patients than ever. Across the U.S., medication abortion is the most common way women get abortion care, and mifepristone is one of two drugs used in most medication abortion care. Approved by the FDA more than 20 years ago, mifepristone’s safety and efficacy have been affirmed time and again by scientific evidence, research, and clinical experience. But anti-choice activists and Republican elected officials have repeatedly sought to deny patients across the country access to the FDA-approved drug. In addition to threatening pharmacies seeking to dispense the drug legally, anti-choice activists have filed an unprecedented lawsuit to try to effectively ban the drug nationwide and have enacted bans and medically-unnecessary restrictions on mifepristone in a number of states.
Senator Padilla believes in a person’s fundamental right to make their own health care decisions, and is a staunch advocate for reproductive rights. As a cosponsor of the Women’s Health Protection Act, Senator Padilla is fighting to protect and increase access to abortion services throughout the United States. While Republican-led state legislatures work to further strip away reproductive rights, he’s also fighting to protect a patient’s right to travel freely between states to access abortion care.