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The Healey Administration warned pharmacies across Massachusetts on Wednesday: keep reproductive health medications, including a drug approved to end a pregnancy in early stages, in stock or face state investigation.
The Massachusetts Board of Registration in Pharmacy sent clarifying guidance to all pharmacies in the state Wednesday reminding them of their obligation to stock and/or procure all reproductive health medications, including Mifepristone, and dispense those medications when presented with a valid prescription or order.
The notice comes as Walgreens, a national pharmacy chain with locations in more than 85 Massachusetts communities, has said it won't offer certain medications in at least 20 states where access to abortion has been rolled back and as the federal approval for the abortion medication Mifepristone is being contested in federal court.
"I've been really clear: as governor, I will do everything in my power and authority to make sure that we're protecting women's access to reproductive health care. Unfortunately, we've seen states around the country rushing to ban safe and effective medication abortion. And we just wanted to remind our pharmacies here that we won't tolerate ... anyone who restricts access to it," Healey said during a WBUR interview Wednesday morning. "Again, these are safe and effective methods, and we just wanted to send guidance and a message, given what the national context has been, to our pharmacies here that they have an obligation to provide Mifepristone and other reproductive health medications."
The guidance from BORP tells pharmacies that they are required under state regulations to have on hand or be able to acquire "a sufficient variety and supply" of commonly prescribed medications "in accordance with the usual needs of the community." In the eyes of the state, "all family planning medications ... are considered necessary to meet the usual needs of each and every community across the Commonwealth."
"Therefore, all pharmacies located in Massachusetts and licensed by the Board must maintain a continuous, sufficient supply of all family planning medications, including mifepristone (Mifeprex), misoprostol (Cytotec), emergency contraception, and contraceptive prescriptions to meet the needs of the community," the guidance says.
Any pharmacy or pharmacist that refuses to stock, procure, fill or dispense legitimately-prescribed reproductive health medications will be considered in violation of state regulations and practice standards, and will be investigated, BORP said.
Public Health Commissioner Margret Cooke noted that the administration's interpretation of the state regulations to include all reproductive health medications "is consistent with our standards as they relate to other basic though controversial medications, including naloxone.
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