HomeoldWhere we stand with Pharmacy Distribution of Abortion Pills: An Update —...

Where we stand with Pharmacy Distribution of Abortion Pills: An Update — Part Two of Two

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Editor’s Note: On Monday, Dr. O’Bannon examined the manner in which the Biden administration established the pharmacy distribution system for mifepristone, as well as the legal and regulatory challenges that could impede the efforts of some of the nation’s largest pharmacy chains to offer abortion pills. In this article, we will examine some of the remaining logistical challenges and practical considerations.

In addition to the aforementioned factors, other variables must be considered.

Both CVS and Walgreens have recently been the subject of media attention due to a high level of employee dissatisfaction. Rite Aid, which is confronted with a number of comparable challenges, has recently declared that it is filing for bankruptcy. This has resulted in the company having to address a wider range of concerns than those related to the certification of abortion pills.

In a recent development, thousands of pharmacy personnel at Walgreens engaged in a work stoppage. The employees have expressed concerns about their working conditions, citing instances of inadequate staffing and excessive workloads. They have also highlighted the potential risks associated with the backlog of prescriptions, which they claim places both employees and patients at undue risk (Washington Post, 10/9/23).

CVS encountered comparable issues in a walkout in Missouri just a month prior, citing numerous parallels between the two instances, shortly after the pharmacy chain announced plans to lay off 5,000 employees (USA Today, 9/22/23; ABC News, 8/1/23).

It seems unlikely that a prompt resolution will be achieved. This week, CNBC reported that Walgreens and CVS workers are planning a nationwide strike for the end of this month (Becker’s Hospital Review, 16 October 2023).

To date, there has been no public indication of concern regarding the corporate promotion of abortion pills. It is unlikely, however, that this policy will be implemented or supported by many CVS and Walgreens employees, particularly those who are pro-life and dedicated to providing genuine healthcare.

A fatal error occurred.

A case from Las Vegas involving two CVS pharmacists illustrates the potential for significant complications to arise in a relatively straightforward situation.

A prescription for a progesterone suppository, presumably intended to prevent miscarriage, was provided to Timika Thomas by CVS employees. However, the employees instead administered misoprostol, an anti-ulcer prostaglandin used in conjunction with (and sometimes as a standalone agent) as an abortifacient. The administration of the incorrect pharmaceutical agent resulted in the demise of both fetuses.

Media sources have provided two slightly different versions of the incident. In the first account, a CVS technician erroneously believed that the generic name for the brand prescribed by the doctor was misoprostol and entered the incorrect name into the computer (KLAS, 8 News Now, 3 October 2023). In the second account, the technician encountered difficulty in deciphering the handwriting of Thomas’s fertility doctor and resorted to guessing at the medication, rather than contacting the doctor to confirm. This information was reported by People magazine on 5 October 2023.

It is unclear whether the first or second account is an accurate representation of the events in question. It is evident, however, that after the initial error was identified, one pharmacist failed to catch it and a second failed to counsel and confirm with Thomas when she came to pick up the medicine.

In hearings before the pharmacy board, both pharmacists expressed remorse for their actions. One pharmacist apologised profusely, stating that it was a human error and expressing regret. (KLAS, 10/3/23)

One of the pharmacists highlighted the impact of budgetary constraints at CVS, which resulted in employees being overburdened and unable to perform the necessary double-checking procedures (People, 10/5/23).

The two pharmacists were each fined and had their licenses provisionally suspended for a period of 12 months, during which time they must comply with the rulings of the relevant board. The pharmacy itself was also fined $10,000.

Thomas was dissatisfied with the outcome, stating to KLAS that “All I got was a sorry… It will never be good enough.”

It is often the case that individuals must learn difficult lessons through experience.

Irrespective of the cause of this unfortunate incident, there are a number of valuable insights to be gained from it.

Firstly, it is important to recognise that there are numerous potential avenues through which a prescription can be misinterpreted. Despite the best efforts of CVS pharmacists, who are undoubtedly well-intentioned, it is not possible for them to guarantee that patients will not be exposed to avoidable errors.

Secondly, the mere presence of abortifacients on the shelves of a local pharmacy creates the potential for fatal errors, with the result that even minor missteps can have catastrophic and irreversible consequences.

Thirdly, the work conditions that prevail at the pharmacy in question and those that are reported to be commonplace in the CVS and Walgreens chains make such errors more likely to occur.

This indicates that the FDA’s concerns regarding the implementation of these certification requirements are justified, and that the caution expressed by these pharmacy chains is well-founded. In a broader sense, however, it demonstrates how the corruption of medicine involved in a government agency authorising the sale of drugs that result in the death of infants threatens to compromise, if not completely undermine, the integrity of the entire healthcare system.

Other questions

The combination of these factors raises questions not only about the timing of the sale of the abortion pill at CVS and Walgreens pharmacies, but also about the locations and methods of sale. It remains unclear whether the abortion pill will be sold exclusively at select regional stores. It remains unclear whether the medication will be available for personal pickup.

It remains to be seen whether internal pressures from disgruntled employees will ultimately prove to be a significant obstacle to the project’s success. Alternatively, will external pressure from pro-life customers and political leaders prompt CVS and Walgreens to reconsider the moral, legal, and economic implications of their decisions?

It is inevitable that a further prescription mix-up will occur, and that a further lawsuit will be filed against one of these pharmacists and their parent corporation.

The Supreme Court is poised to decide whether to endorse the complete removal of these products from the market or to side with those who advocate for their sale and shipment in states where their sale and use are permitted or prohibited.

The outcome of this matter remains to be seen.

It is evident that the popular myths surrounding these abortion pills, which supporters promote as nearly “magic,” are not as straightforward or as beneficial as mifepristone’s advocates would have us believe. It is evident that these pills continue to present a number of significant risks and concerns, which cannot be readily resolved by the introduction of further regulation or certification.

It is to be hoped that pharmacies will come to recognise that these pills are detrimental to the health of babies, mothers and the business in question.


Daniel Miller is responsible for nearly all of National Right to Life News' political writing.

With the election of Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency, Daniel Miller developed a deep obsession with U.S. politics that has never let go of the political scientist. Whether it's the election of Joe Biden, the midterm elections in Congress, the abortion rights debate in the Supreme Court or the mudslinging in the primaries - Daniel Miller is happy to stay up late for you.

Daniel was born and raised in New York. After living in China, working for a news agency and another stint at a major news network, he now lives in Arizona with his two daughters.

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