FDA’s Mifepristone Approval Under Threat in Supreme Court: Implications for Medicine and Access to Abortion

Health Experts Raise Concerns About Supreme Court’s Limitations on Abortion Pill Access

The Supreme Court is currently considering arguments to reverse the FDA’s approval of mifepristone, a medication that has been in use for over 20 years. The court is also considering rolling back changes made in 2016 that aimed to make it easier for patients to access the medication. Health care attorney and managing partner at Nelson Hardiman, Harry Nelson, expressed concern over the idea that the FDA’s decisions could be overruled by federal courts, calling it “profoundly radical.”

Mifepristone is one of two drugs approved by the FDA for medication abortion, along with misoprostol. This medication, which is only approved for use up to 10 weeks pregnant, impacts progesterone, a hormone crucial in menstruation and pregnancy. Despite controversy surrounding its approval, Ushma Upadhyay, a professor and public health scientist at the University of California San Francisco, cited over 100 peer-reviewed publications and 20 years of evidence demonstrating the safety and effectiveness of medication abortion.

In addition to being used for medication abortions, mifepristone is also utilized for miscarriages, uterine fibroids, and Cushing’s syndrome. Patients without access to mifepristone may have to resort to using misoprostol alone or undergo more invasive procedures, which come with greater health risks. If certain court decisions are made, it could impact the drug approval process and potentially limit access to medications deemed safe and effective.

Recent research has shown an increase in self-managed medication abortions following the potential overturning of Roe v. Wade, with telehealth abortion playing a crucial role for patients who are pressed for time due to the FDA’s 10-week limit. The outcome of this Supreme Court case regarding mifepristone could have significant implications for the future accessibility of medication abortion and the broader drug approval process.

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