Drug company asks Supreme Court to decide abortion pill case

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on abortion rights in a speech hosted by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) at the Howard Theatre in Washington, October 18, 2022.

Leah Millis | Reuters

The drug company Danco Laboratories has asked the Supreme Court to review the case challenging the legality of the abortion pill mifepristone.

Danco’s request comes in response to a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit that would impose major restrictions on how the medication is used and distributed to patients.

The appeals court ruling is on hold until the Supreme Court makes a decision about the case. The high court, in April, pressed pause on lower court decisions as litigation about the pill proceeds in response to a request from the Biden administration.

A three-judge panel at the 5th Circuit ruled that decisions the Food and Drug Administration took in recent years to make mifepristone more accessible to women failed to address safety concerns.

Should the Supreme Court take the case and uphold the appeals court decision, mifepristone will remain on the market in the U.S. but patients will face more barriers to accessing the medication.

If the high court declines to take the case, the appeals court restrictions will go into effect.

Mifepristone, used in combination with another drug called misoprostol, is the most common method to terminate a pregnancy in the U.S.

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The appeals court order would end mail delivery of mifepristone and prescriptions via telemedicine appointments. Women would have to see a doctor in person to get a prescription and go to three follow-up visits as they take the course of medication.

The ruling also shortens the time when women can take mifepristone to seven weeks into their pregnancy, down from 10 weeks currently.

The litigation against mifepristone began last November when a group of physicians who oppose abortion called the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine sued to overturn the FDA’s original approval of the pill, which dates back more than 20 years.

U.S. Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas issued a sweeping order in April that suspended the FDA approval of mifepristone.

The appeals court dialed back Kacsmaryk’s order and kept the original FDA approval in place as well as the agency’s authorization of a generic form of the pill.

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

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