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What We’re Reading: FDA Widens Access to Abortion Pills; Winter COVID-19 Surge Causes Concern; Drug Prices Rise


Dual-regimen abortion pills authorized for pharmacy sale by FDA; health professionals turn a critical eye to US concerns about COVID-19 in China while domestic cases rise here as vaccination rates drop; drug manufacturers are collectively raising prices early this month on medications from autoimmune treatments to shingles vaccines to cancer treatments.

FDA Grants Abortion Pill Access Through Retail Pharmacies

Abortion pills will now be available at local pharmacies around the country, if they choose to participate, according to The New York Times. Mifespristone, the first of a 2-drug regimen for abortion, could previously only be obtained through mail-order pharmacies or doctors and clinics with special certifications. The second drug in the regimen, misoprostol, did not have the same restrictions as mifespristone due to its use in various medical conditions. The FDA said that a prescription from a certified health provider is still needed, in addition to requirements such as extra administrative guidelines and guaranteed compliance. Furthermore, the US Postal Service (USPS) is still able to deliver prescription abortion medications even to states that have banned or heavily restricted abortion after the Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe vs Wade , Reuters reported..

Health Professionals Anxious About Winter COVID-19 Flood

Limited numbers of people are getting their COVID-19 booster shots amidst the emergence of new variants that are also responsible for neutralizing the usefulness of monoclonal antibody treatments, reported The Hill. The new COVID-19 variation, omicron subvariant XBB.1.5, is likely to blame for over 100 million reported cases last week in the United States. Instead of focusing on domestic efforts to curb infection, US health experts are frustrated to see international efforts, such as testing requirements for travelers coming from China, at the forefront. They said a new focus on masking, testing, and vaccinations in the United States are needed to combat a new surge.

Drug Manufacturers Will Increase at Least 350 Drug Prices This Month

Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, Bristol Myers Squibb, AstraZeneca, and Sanofi intend to raise prices on over 350 drugs in the coming weeks, reported Reuters, citing data from 3 Axis Advisors. The report said the increases are not a surprise as the pharmaceutical industry anticipates the effects of the Inflation Reduction Act, which allows for Medicare to negotiate prices on some drugs directly starting in 2026. The report also cited inflation and supply chain limitations for the increases.

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