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Maryland stockpiles abortion drug mifepristone in case of Supreme Court ban

Jack Hogan//June 7, 2023

Maryland stockpiles abortion drug mifepristone in case of Supreme Court ban

By Jack Hogan

//June 7, 2023

The Maryland Board of Public Works on Wednesday approved a $1.3 million emergency purchase of about two-and-a-half years’ worth of mifepristone, a pill used in more than half of abortions and the target of what Gov. Wes Moore called “a very unique and distinct attack.”

Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2022 reversal of Roe v. Wade, states have challenged access to mifepristone, which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved in 2000 as a “safe and effective” way to end a pregnancy.

In April, a Trump-appointed U.S. district court judge in Texas ordered that mifepristone lose its FDA approval and be taken off the market. The U.S. Supreme Court later ordered the ruling stayed, temporarily delaying any change to Americans’ access to the drug.

The case, now being heard by a panel of three Republican-appointed judges in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, is likely to return to the U.S. Supreme Court, The Associated Press reported in May.

There is not precedent for a U.S. court overturning the approval of a drug the FDA has labeled safe and effective, The Associated Press reported in May. The agency has the responsibility of monitoring medicines on the market, evaluating problems that arise and, if necessary, taking action to protect patients.

Following the Texas court ruling, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore said the state had partnered with the University of Maryland Medical System to create a cache of mifepristone.

RELATED: 3 judges who chipped away abortion rights to hear federal abortion pill appeal

On Wednesday, Moore said “the Maryland Department of Health moved quickly to secure these doses, to establish a stockpile and to ensure, if the need arose, that access to these essential drugs would not be compromised at all in the state of Maryland.”

Department of Health officials have spoken with vendors to ensure the state can rotate its supply if unused drugs expire, said Bryan Mroz, deputy secretary of the Maryland Department of Health health care system and operations.

The Board of Public Works approved the $1.1 million purchase of 25,000 doses of mifepristone, branded as Mifeprex, through ASD Specialty Healthcare, part of the Pennsylvania-based drug wholesale company AmerisourceBergen Corp.

The board also approved $213,000 for 5,000 doses of mifepristone from R&S Pharmaceutical and $10,000 for 5,000 doses of misoprostol through the McKesson Corp. The two suppliers had existing relationships with the University of Maryland Medical System, according to meeting documents.

The Maryland Department of Health awarded contracts to the distributors in April and was late in reporting its emergency procurement to the Board of Public Works because of shortages in procurement staff, according to meeting documents.

Mifepristone can be used to end a pregnancy through 10 weeks’ gestation when it’s taken in combination with another medicine called misoprostol, according to the FDA.

Two-thirds of people who participated in a Washington Post-ABC News poll published in May said that mifepristone should remain on the market.

In 2020, more than half of the women who chose to end a pregnancy early did so with the two-drug combination, known as the “abortion pill,” according to the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive rights research group.


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