FDA Lifts In-Person Dispensing Requirement for Mifepristone

Heidi Splete

April 14, 2021

The Food and Drug Administration has lifted in-person dispensing requirements for mifepristone when used for medical termination of early pregnancy.

In an April 12, 2021, letter to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, acting commissioner of food and drugs Janet Woodcock stated that the FDA would exercise discretion to permit the dispensing of mifepristone through the mail when done by or under the supervision of a certified prescriber; or through a mail-order pharmacy under the supervision of a certified prescriber.

The decision follows a trial period of suspension of the in-person dispensing requirement in response to safety concerns for patients as well as providers associated with in-person clinic visits during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Center for Drug Evaluation and Research reviewed safety and clinical outcomes data on mifepristone use when prescriptions were handled by mail or mail-order pharmacy and found that "the small number of adverse events reported to FDA during the COVID-19 public health emergency [PHE] provide no indication that any program deviation or noncompliance with the mifepristone [Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy] program contributed to the reported adverse events," according to the letter. The analysis covers Mifeprex and the approved generic, mifepristone tablets, both 200-mg doses.
As long as other mifepristone REMS criteria are met, the FDA will continue to permit mail and mail-order prescriptions, according to the letter.

"By halting enforcement of the in-person dispensing requirement during the COVID-19 pandemic, the FDA is recognizing and responding to the available evidence - which has clearly and definitively demonstrated that the in-person dispensing requirement for mifepristone is unnecessary and restrictive," Maureen G. Phipps, MD, MPH, CEO of ACOG, said in a statement in response to the FDA decision.

ACOG petitioned the FDA to suspend the in-person requirement to reduce the risk of transmission in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, given safety concerns and the potential impact on hard-hit communities, particularly communities of color, Phipps emphasized. Data from a review period with a suspension of the in-person requirement yielded no additional safety concerns with mifepristone use, and contributed to the FDA decision to lift the requirement.

"Thanks to the FDA's intent to exercise discretion in enforcing the in-person dispensing requirement, those in need of an abortion or miscarriage management will be able to do so safety and effectively by acquiring mifepristone though the mail - just as they would any other medication with a similarly strong safety profile," said Phipps. "We are pleased to see mifepristone regulated on the basis of the scientific evidence during the pandemic, rather than political bias against comprehensive reproductive health care, and we look forward to working with policy makers to ensure this principle governs postpandemic care."

CDER is communicating the decision to all approved application holders subject to the mifepristone REMS program, according to the letter.

This article originally appeared on MDedge.com, part of the Medscape Professional Network.

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