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Pharmacists support dispensing medication abortion

Last year, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced it would permanently remove the in-person dispensing requirement for mifepristone, one of two drugs used in medication abortion, allowing the pills to be dispensed at certified pharmacies. Researchers at ANSIRH evaluated pharmacists’ attitudes about dispensing mifepristone for medication abortion care and found that most were supportive of the practice.

Key Findings

Pharmacists supported dispensing medication abortion, citing improved access to abortion and that dispensing mifepristone was “unremarkable” and no different from dispensing medications such as contraceptive pills or emergency contraception.
All but one pharmacist were comfortable providing mifepristone with the necessary training and practice, and they had an easy time implementing it.
The main challenge pharmacists expressed about dispensing medication abortion was the discomfort of other pharmacists, especially in conservative areas, who might refuse to dispense the medication and how this would affect people’s ability to obtain it at the pharmacy.

Study Design

Researchers conducted interviews with 29 pharmacists before and after participating in a pilot project where mifepristone was dispensed from their pharmacies. The data from this study supplement previously published research assessing pharmacists’ knowledge of medication abortion, and the safety and effectiveness of pharmacist dispensing of medication abortion.


This qualitative study provides insight into pharmacists' personal attitudes around medication abortion and their experiences observing or participating in dispensing mifepristone. Many mentioned the importance of training on medication abortion, which will be crucial as mifepristone dispensing is expanded into pharmacies. The practice could expand access to medication abortion by allowing clinicians who are unable to stock mifepristone in their own facilities to provide medication abortion services.

One pharmacist stated:

“I've worked retail for many years at a [large chain pharmacy], and I think it'll be fine. It was run very smoothly here. It was very unremarkable. I have no complaints or concerns from any of my staff."

Another stated:

“I think that pharmacists are really underutilized. And if we were to be able to dispense these medications, then we would not only be improving access of care to patients, but also reducing the burden on providers.”

These testimonies from pharmacists further support the feasibility of dispensing mifepristone in pharmacies, including brick-and-mortar pharmacies.

The article, "No Big Deal”: A Qualitative Study of Pharmacists’ Perspectives on Dispensing Mifepristone for Medication Abortion, is available in Women's Health Issues.