The status of the lawsuit New Mexico joined to remove FDA restrictions to mifepristone

While the U.S. Supreme Court considers the future of access to the abortion medication, mifepristone, another lawsuit against the FDA that would expand access to the medication is on hold. Last year there were two separate cases against the FDA – one to restrict access to mifepristone and one to expand it. The U.S. Supreme […]

The status of the lawsuit New Mexico joined to remove FDA restrictions to mifepristone

While the U.S. Supreme Court considers the future of access to the abortion medication, mifepristone, another lawsuit against the FDA that would expand access to the medication is on hold.

Last year there were two separate cases against the FDA – one to restrict access to mifepristone and one to expand it. The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. FDA, which is the case that could restrict access, last month and will issue a decision later this year. The suit trying to expand access, Washington et al v. FDA, alleges that the FDA is acting improperly and discriminatorily by maintaining some regulations around the drug that are unnecessary. 

In the Washington et al v. FDA case, a Washington state federal judge placed a preliminary injunction but has yet to rule. The preliminary injunction, in effect, shielded Washington and the 17 other jurisdictions, including New Mexico, from the separate case, the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. FDA. In that case, a Texas district judge made the initial ruling against the FDA in the case brought by the Alliance trying to restrict access last spring. The FDA appealed the Texas district judge’s decision, which led the case going to the Supreme Court.

New Mexico Attorney General Raúl Torrez told NM Political Report that if the Supreme Court rules in favor of the Alliance in the Texas case, that could impact the case Washington and the 17 additional jurisdictions’ have made to expand access.

But if the majority of the Supreme Court justices rule against the Alliance and do not delve into the FDA’s approval process in the case before it, that could leave room for the Washington district court to consider expanding access, Torrez said.

Washington state and the 17 jurisdictions note that since the FDA gave its approval for mifepristone to be available as one step in a two-step abortion medication regimen in 2000, it has been used approximately 5.6 million times in the U.S. The drug first began to be used in France in the late 1980s for abortion, the complaint states.

In its review of the drug’s efficacy and safety in 2016, the FDA found that serious adverse events, including death, hospitalization, serious infection, bleeding requiring a transfusion or ectopic pregnancy are at rates far below 1 percent and the medication is, therefore, safe.

The Washington state complaint states that mifepristone is safer than Tylenol and Viagra, both of which are available without a prescription.

But although the FDA removed some restrictions in 2016, and then removed more during the pandemic, the agency still requires that a medical professional or a pharmacist that dispenses the drug must obtain certification in advance to provide the medication.

This can lead to fear, especially since some states have banned abortion, including medication abortion. The complaint states that one abortion clinic in Washington was subject to a hacking attempt to access its data. Requiring the certification can put both patient and provider at risk, the complaint states.

The complaint also says that there are 20,000 drugs available that have received FDA approval. Torrez said the most dangerous, such as fentanyl, require special restrictions in the same way mifepristone does.

“Mifepristone, in contrast, doesn’t have the same adverse safety issues and unique characteristics the science would justify having added restrictions. It’s our view this is not the current best science because of these extra barriers to access that should be taken down. If the [Washington state district] court orders the FDA to remove the REMS [federal restrictions] from the drug using current best science, that is justified,” Torrez said.

Since the FDA removed some of its restrictions in 2016, which increased its accessibility, the use of abortion medication has increased to more than half of all abortions are through abortion medication. 

Amanda Stevenson, assistant professor of Sociology at the University of Colorado-Boulder, studies the impacts of reproductive health policies. She told NM Political Report that if the Supreme Court rules even very narrowly to further restrict access to mifepristone, in the Alliance case against the FDA, it would expose some individuals to the risk of pregnancy, which “are not insubstantial.”

She said that many of those who need an abortion are “at the greatest risk for pregnancy morbidity and mortality.”

Individuals of color have greater barriers to both positive health outcomes, have higher rates of maternal mortality and morbidity and face greater barriers to abortion access.

Stevenson said that studies have shown that those who are denied an abortion have worse outcomes in health, higher rates of poverty and face greater adverse economic outcomes like medical debt. She said they are also more likely to remain in abusive relationships and are more likely to have mental health problems.

“When a person is prevented from obtaining a wanted abortion, they are forcibly exposed to the risk of staying pregnant which is greater than the risk for abortion,” she said.

Torrez said the New Mexico Department of Justice [formerly known as the Attorney General’s Office] joined the Washington state lawsuit against the FDA because mifepristone “is a safe and effective medication.”

“It’s been on the market [in the U.S.] for 24 years. It shouldn’t be restricted like drugs like fentanyl is classified,” he said.

We're ad free

That means that we rely on support from readers like you. Help us keep reporting on the most important New Mexico Stories by donating today.

Related

Senators throw support to embattled Ivey-Soto

Senators throw support to embattled Ivey-Soto

By Justin Horwath, New Mexico In Dept Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto is running for a fourth term despite the state Democratic Party’s decision to censure…
AG announces legislative priorities for upcoming special session

AG announces legislative priorities for upcoming special session

Attorney General Raúl Torrez announced on Thursday his legislative priorities for July’s special legislative session, including the creation of a crime victim’s unit to…
Correa Hemphill to step down from legislature

Correa Hemphill to step down from legislature

State Sen. Siah Correa Hemphill, a Democrat from Silver City, won’t seek reelection in the general election in November, leaving SD 28, a swing…
EPA announces $18.9M in funding to address PFAS contamination in New Mexico

EPA announces $18.9M in funding to address PFAS contamination in New Mexico

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded the New Mexico Environment Department nearly $19 million to address PFAS and other emerging contaminants in drinking water.…
Environmental historian reflects on the legacies of Aldo Leopold and the Gila Wilderness

Environmental historian reflects on the legacies of Aldo Leopold and the Gila Wilderness

One hundred years ago, conservationist Aldo Leopold proposed designating 500,000 acres of land in the Gila National Forest as an area where no roads…

A rare NM lizard is now listed as endangered

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service added the dunes sagebrush lizard to the list of endangered species on Friday and is expected to designate…
Amid new graduation requirements, what do high schoolers want to learn?

Amid new graduation requirements, what do high schoolers want to learn?

By Margaret O’Hara, The Santa Fe New Mexican The main things that bring Brayan Chavez to school every day: Seeing, talking to and engaging with…
Special ed teachers hope lawmakers OK pay raises, admin changes

Special ed teachers hope lawmakers OK pay raises, admin changes

By Margaret O’Hara, The Santa Fe New Mexican Brittany Behenna Griffith has a laundry list of adjectives to describe the ideal special education teacher:…
Lawmakers must find consensus on competing education spending plans

Lawmakers must find consensus on competing education spending plans

By Margaret O’Hara, The Santa Fe New Mexican A challenging task awaits New Mexico lawmakers in the next 30 days: Reconciling three very different…
Heinrich questions FDA leadership on baby formula safety, mifepristone

Heinrich questions FDA leadership on baby formula safety, mifepristone

U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf answered questions about the safety of human milk formula and mifepristone on Wednesday. Sen. Martin…
Health workers fear it’s profits before protection as CDC revisits airborne transmission

Health workers fear it’s profits before protection as CDC revisits airborne transmission

Amy Maxmen, KFF Health News Four years after hospitals in New York City overflowed with covid-19 patients, emergency physician Sonya Stokes remains shaken by…
Lujan Grisham, Biden admin announce $10 million in federal funds for tribes, pueblos

Lujan Grisham, Biden admin announce $10 million in federal funds for tribes, pueblos

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced Friday $10 million in funding from the federal American Rescue Plan Act was awarded to six tribal nations and…
Lujan Grisham talks reproductive healthcare with CNN host

Lujan Grisham talks reproductive healthcare with CNN host

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham warned that banning contraceptives “could be next” when talking to a CNN host about New Mexico’s border and abortion issues.…
UNM approves land acquisition for Las Cruces reproductive health center

UNM approves land acquisition for Las Cruces reproductive health center

Thursday, the University of New Mexico Board of Regents approved a land acquisition for a full-spectrum reproductive healthcare center, that will include abortion care,…
Heinrich questions FDA leadership on baby formula safety, mifepristone

Heinrich questions FDA leadership on baby formula safety, mifepristone

U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf answered questions about the safety of human milk formula and mifepristone on Wednesday. Sen. Martin…
Lujan Grisham talks reproductive healthcare with CNN host

Lujan Grisham talks reproductive healthcare with CNN host

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham warned that banning contraceptives “could be next” when talking to a CNN host about New Mexico’s border and abortion issues.…
Study: Marriage equality has had a positive impact

Study: Marriage equality has had a positive impact

A recent study found that in the 20 years since Massachusetts became the first state in the U.S. to grant same-sex marriage licenses, same-sex…
UNM approves land acquisition for Las Cruces reproductive health center

UNM approves land acquisition for Las Cruces reproductive health center

Thursday, the University of New Mexico Board of Regents approved a land acquisition for a full-spectrum reproductive healthcare center, that will include abortion care,…
State Ethics Commission sues Apodacas dark money operation

State Ethics Commission sues Apodacas dark money operation

By Marjorie Childress, New Mexico In Depth The State Ethics Commission on Friday sued a dark money group and its president, Jeff Apodaca, to force disclosure…
Lujan Grisham talks reproductive healthcare with CNN host

Lujan Grisham talks reproductive healthcare with CNN host

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham warned that banning contraceptives “could be next” when talking to a CNN host about New Mexico’s border and abortion issues.…
Senators throw support to embattled Ivey-Soto

Senators throw support to embattled Ivey-Soto

By Justin Horwath, New Mexico In Dept Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto is running for a fourth term despite the state Democratic Party’s decision to censure…
State Ethics Commission sues Apodacas dark money operation

State Ethics Commission sues Apodacas dark money operation

By Marjorie Childress, New Mexico In Depth The State Ethics Commission on Friday sued a dark money group and its president, Jeff Apodaca, to force disclosure…
EPA announces $18.9M in funding to address PFAS contamination in New Mexico

EPA announces $18.9M in funding to address PFAS contamination in New Mexico

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded the New Mexico Environment Department nearly $19 million to address PFAS and other emerging contaminants in drinking water.…
State putting pressure on firms that manage Medicaid to help solve behavioral health access problems

State putting pressure on firms that manage Medicaid to help solve behavioral health access problems

By Gabrielle Porter, The Santa Fe New Mexican New Mexico’s Medicaid middlemen need more skin in the game. That’s the message from Human Services…

GET INVOLVED

© 2023 New Mexico Political Report