California will not renew a $54 million contract with Walgreens over the drugstore chain’s decision not to sell the abortion pill mifepristone in some states due to legal restrictions.
“California will not stand by as corporations cave to extremists and cut off critical access to reproductive care and freedom,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement Wednesday. “California is on track to be the fourth largest economy in the world and we will leverage our market power to defend the right to choose.”
Newsom said Monday that the state was “done” doing business with Walgreens. California used the contract to buy specialty prescription drugs for the prison system. The state is reviewing all its business contracts with Walgreens.
Walgreens, in a statement Thursday, said it is “deeply disappointed” by California’s decision, which the company blamed on “false and misleading information.”
“Walgreens is facing the same circumstances as all retail pharmacies, and no other retail pharmacies have said that they would approach this situation differently, so it’s unclear where this contract would now be moved,” said Fraser Engerman, a company spokesperson.
“Our position has always been that, once we are certified by the FDA, Walgreens plans to dispense Mifepristone in any jurisdiction where it is legally permissible to do so, including the state of California,” Engerman said.
Republican attorneys general in 21 states warned Walgreens in February that selling or distributing the abortion pill in their states would violate local laws.
The drugstore chain told them it would not sell or mail mifepristone in their states.
The Food and Drug Administration in January allowed retail pharmacies such as Walgreens to sell mifepristone so long as they become certified under an agency program that monitors how the pill is used and distributed. Walgreens and CVS have said they plan to become certified under that program.
At least 12 states have banned abortion since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022. Several other states have tighter restrictions on mifepristone than the FDA does.
Walgreens is also not selling the abortion pill in states such as Alaska, Kansas and Montana where abortion is protected as a right under the states’ constitutions.
Alaska requires patients to get the pill from a doctor. In Kansas, the state had required patients to obtain the abortion pill in person from a physician, but a state court blocked that law in November. Montana’s requirement that patients visit a doctor to get mifepristone is also temporarily blocked by a court.
The drugstore chain will also not sell mifepristone in Iowa, where the state Supreme Court last year overturned state constitutional protections for abortion.
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