Thursday, April 7, 2016

Easier Access to the Morning-After Pill? Not in Arizona!

Just last week the FDA established new labeling guidelines for the use of mifepristone, the so-called "morning-after pill" (see this blog Apr. 1, 2016). The new labeling guidelines were expected to make mifepristone more widely available in six states that had specifically passed laws requiring physicians to adhere to FDA labeling guidelines when using the drug. The previous labeling guidelines written in 2000 are no longer considered "best medical practice". But they were much more restrictive than the way most physicians were using the drug, so in effect they limited access to medication abortions.

But wait a minute! Just one day after the FDA established the new labeling requirements for mifepristone, Arizona's governor signed into law legislation that declares that mifepristone may only be used in accordance with the old protocol as it existed at the end of 2015. The new law will take effect this Summer, when the legislature is conveniently out of session. Apparently the Arizona legislature knew the FDA ruling was coming and made a preemptive strike against it before adjourning. The intent is clear, for there can be no medical justification for sticking to an outdated protocol that restricts access to a safe and effective drug.

We'll see how this plays out in the courts and in other states that may choose to copy this approach. At the very least, it is likely to delay the availability of mifepristone in Arizona by a year or so.

For more on this subject, see the article in The New York Times.

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