Will Walgreens Be Staying in California?

On Monday, March 6, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced California will no longer be doing business with the popular drugstore Walgreens. Just days before, the Walgreens company announced that they will end the distribution of a popular abortion pill called Mifepristone in over twenty red states, where abortion is banned or heavily restricted. 

In December 2021, the FDA had officially allowed doctors to prescribe mifepristone over telehealth appointments, and then have the drug be sent via mail. With the recent Roe v. Wade decision overturned, red states are now adamant about tightening up their abortion laws. In February, several different red states sent letters to Walgreens and other pharmacies that carried the pill threatening legal action if they continued selling it. 

Earlier in the year, Walgreens claimed they would apply to be a certified pharmacy by the Food and Drug Administration to be able to continue selling mifepristone, in states where abortion was still legal. After announcing earlier this month that they will pause carrying mifepristone until further notice, Gov. Newsom was distraught. 

Gov. Newsom ordered state officials to withdraw California’s $54 million contract with Walgreens, which was supposed to be renewed in late April/early May this year. 

Gov. Newsom in a news release explains, “California is on track to be the fourth largest economy in the world and we will leverage our market power to defend the right to choose.” Newsom plans to stand by his view that women have the right to choose, and will work to keep California as a loosely restricted abortion state. With this choice, he claims he will find another place to buy drugs for the state of California. 

Walgreens response to Gov. Newsom was that they only wanted to distribute the pill to “where it is legally permissible,” states USA Today

Now, arguments and debate over whether Gov Newsom’s dismissal of Walgreens from Califonira is reasonable. Some view Walgreen’s decision to get rid of mifepristone as their way of following federal and state laws, and it only makes sense that until they are federally certified to sell the drug, they need to stop carrying it. Others think that Walgreens gave in to the red states, without trying to stand strong for pro-choice. It is also important to take into account that a Texas federal judge is currently dealing with a case that could lead to forcing major abortion pills off the market. 

It’s also important to consider the toll the loss of Walgreens will be on California citizens. Not only will many citizens who worked for Walgreens lose their jobs, but an easily-accessible neighborhood pharmacy will be removed. 

As Gov. Newsom continues to stick to his claims that California is done with Walgreens, California citizens are anxious to see what the future holds.