A Walgreens location in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S., in 2022. Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. is scheduled to release earnings figures on March 31. Bloomberg photo by Luke Sharrett

Walgreens Boots Alliance won’t sell abortion pills in 20 states after warnings by Republican attorneys general of legal action, a decision that limits the medication’s availability in many places where access to the procedure is already restricted.

The company won’t dispense mifepristone in those states, Fraser Engerman, a company spokesman, said in an emailed statement to Bloomberg News.

“I can confirm we have responded to each of the attorneys general who signed the letter dated Feb. 1 to Walgreens,” he said. “We will not dispense mifepristone in their states.”

He was referring to a joint letter sent by a group of 20 Republican attorneys general to executives at both Walgreens and CVS Health warning that the companies could face legal consequences if they decided to mail and distribute abortion medication in their states.

Walgreens were little changed Friday at the New York market open.

Not all states have a total ban on abortion or expressly prohibit distribution of the medicine through the mail, but many have laws restricting the pills – like requiring them to be dispensed at a doctor’s office or in person. While the letter written by Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey was signed by most of his Republican counterparts, including those in Texas, Florida and West Virginia, others didn’t, including those from Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska, Pennsylvania and Virginia.


Access to the medication has become a flash point in the partisan war over abortion since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year. The decision returned the issue to the states, where access to abortion was sharply limited or effectively barred in many of those led by Republicans.

The nation’s biggest pharmacy chains announced in January that they planned to seek U.S. certification to sell the pills used in medication abortion, after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration loosened restrictions on where the drugs could be dispensed. Previously, they could be distributed only in health-care settings.

The attorneys general sent the letter Feb. 1, after the companies stated their intention. A rival missive was sent to executives at Walgreens and CVS by 23 Democratic state attorneys general two weeks later, urging them to ignore the legal threats from the GOP states. CVS didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Walgreens isn’t currently dispensing mifepristone and only plans to do so in jurisdictions where it’s legal, Engerman wrote. The company stills intend to become a certified pharmacy, he said, a process that requires individual pharmacies to get government approval and navigate myriad state laws.

The company’s decision was reported earlier by Politico.


Bloomberg’s Madlin Mekelburg, Madison Muller and Fiona Rutherford contributed to this report.

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