Washington State: Pharmacists to start prescribing abortion medication thanks to Biden Admin's FDA

via NPR by way of WSIU:

Over the past several months, a handful of community pharmacies in states where abortion remains legal have begun to take advantage of a new rule that allows them to fill prescriptions for the abortion pill mifepristone. Prior to the rule change, which was finalized last January by the Food and Drug Administration, pregnant people had to get the drug directly from their doctor or by mail if using telemedicine, depending on the laws in their state.

Reproductive health experts have said relaxing that requirement could help ease the growing burden on abortion clinics in states where abortion is legal. And perhaps nowhere is the potential for that greater than in Washington state, where efforts are underway to open up access to medication abortion in a radical new way: by training pharmacists not only to dispense abortion pills but also to prescribe them to their walk-in patients.

"We think this could have a huge impact in our state," says Don Downing, a professor emeritus of clinical pharmacy at the University of Washington in Seattle. Medication abortion now accounts for more than half of abortions in the U.S.

Last spring, Downing and colleagues launched the Pharmacy Abortion Access Project to provide community pharmacists in Washington with training on screening for medication abortion eligibility, prescribing abortion pills, and dispensing them from their brick-and-mortar stores — a streamlined model of care that currently exists nowhere else in the United States.

"This is about meeting women where they are," says Downing, adding that close to 90% of Americans live within 5 miles of a community pharmacy and that patients visit their pharmacist almost twice as frequently as they visit their primary care physician. "We do believe this can serve as a model for other states."