Pharma

Mifepristone is safe—for now

Rebecca Hart Holder, president of Reproductive Equity Now, called the ruling “a temporary sigh of relief.”
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The Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously rejected a challenge against the FDA’s regulation of mifepristone—one of two drugs used in medication abortions in the US—nearly two years after the court overturned Roe v. Wade.

The anti-abortion doctors behind the Food and Drug Administration v. Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine case, which was brought to the high court in November 2022, claimed there was inadequate evidence for the FDA’s 2000 approval of the drug. More than 6 million people have used mifepristone since it was approved.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote in the court opinion that the plaintiffs do not prescribe mifepristone, and that a group’s “desire to make a drug less available for others does not establish standing to sue.”

In August 2023, the US Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit ruled that the FDA approval was legal, but restricted how the medication could be doled out, undoing updates that had expanded the use of the drug during pregnancy and access to it via telehealth. This means that SCOTUS’s decision also affirms the authority and independence of the FDA.

Mifepristone was used in 63% of reported abortions in the US in 2023—a 10% increase since 2020, according to data from the research and policy organization Guttmacher Institute. Planned Parenthood has reported that medication abortions are up to 99% successful, and a recent study found that “telehealth medication abortion is effective, safe, and comparable to published rates of in-person medication abortion care.”

Rebecca Hart Holder, president of advocacy group Reproductive Equity Now, called the ruling “a temporary sigh of relief” in a statement.

“We narrowly escaped a worst-case scenario outcome today, and we cannot let these attacks continue to advance. We must take seriously the threat anti-abortion politicians and judges pose to our reproductive freedom, even in protected states like [Massachusetts],” she said.

The Supreme Court has yet to hand down a decision on Idaho and Moyle, et al. v. United States, in which Idaho politicians have challenged the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act, a federal law that protects doctors from prosecution for providing necessary “stabilizing treatment” to pregnant patients.

A decision on that case is expected in late June or early July.

Navigate the healthcare industry

Healthcare Brew covers pharmaceutical developments, health startups, the latest tech, and how it impacts hospitals and providers to keep administrators and providers informed.