State board approves purchase of medication abortion tablets for state stockpile
The Board of Public Works unanimously approved the purchase of two drugs that will be stockpiled to ensure access to medication abortions in Maryland.
Gov. Wes Moore (D) said a cache was necessary because of federal court challenges to Food and Drug Administration approval of the drug mifepristone. The governor called a Texas federal judge’s ruling in April invalidating that approval “a very unique and distinct attack.”
“What we saw from this was yet another assault on women’s reproductive rights and women’s reproductive freedoms,” said Moore.
Those challenges, and a decision last summer by the U.S. Supreme Court overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, sent officials in Maryland and other states scrambling to acquire thousands of doses of the drugs mifepristone and misoprostol.
Mifepristone and misoprostol are commonly given in combination in medication abortion procedures.
Moore vowed Maryland would remain “a safe haven for abortion access and quality reproductive healthcare.”
“I do want to just take a moment just to once again be very, very clear that reproductive freedom is nonnegotiable, ” he said.
A 2022 study published by the Guttmacher Institute reported that medication abortions accounted for 54% of all abortions in the United States.
A 2015 study published in the medical journal Obstetrics and Gynecology found the two-drug regimen 99.6% effective when used in the first two months of pregnancy. The study also found low complication rates associated with the procedure.
Earlier this year, the governor signed into law a package of bills meant to protect abortion access including laws that protect providers from liability for helping out-of-state patients, requiring state colleges and universities provide reproductive health care, and bills that shield medical records. Voters will be asked in 2024 to approve an amendment to the state constitution that enshrines abortion rights. All of the bills were drafted in response to Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization in which the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
Moore prioritized stockpiling of mifepristone after a Trump-appointed U.S. District Court judge in Texas invalidated a 23-year-old approval of the drug by the Federal Drug Administration.
The U.S. Supreme Court later stayed that ruling to allow for an appeal in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Moore announced in April that he would join governors from California, Massachusetts, Maine and Washington state in stockpiling mifepristone.
Moore, speaking Wednesday, said the stockpile ensures “access to these essential drugs would not be compromised at all here in the state of Maryland.”
The three-member board, led by Moore, approved the purchase of two drugs commonly used in medical abortions.
The largest of the agreements is with Pennsylvania-based Amerisource Bergen. In April, the state purchased 25,000 mifepristone doses for almost $1.1 million.
The state purchased additional doses of mifepristone along with doses of misoprostol through the University of Maryland Medical System.
Under that emergency contract issued in April, the state will pay wholesaler R&S Pharmaceutical more than $212,500 for 5,000 doses of mifepristone.
The state paid Ruther Glen, Virginia-based wholesaler McKesson $10,336 for 5,000 doses of misoprostol.
Deputy Treasurer Jon Martin, filling in for Treasurer Dereck Davis, asked for assurances that the purchases would not have problems with short expiration dates.
“We are watching those expiration dates,” said state Deputy Health Secretary Bryan Mroz. “We’ve coordinated our supply to match those dates. We’ve talked to vendors about making sure we could rotate that supply if these are not used to ensure they don’t expire.”