California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday said the state would no longer do business with Walgreens, after the drugstore chain told 21 Republican attorneys general that it would not sell the abortion pill in their states.
Newsom said on Twitter that the state is “done” doing business with Walgreens. Brandon Richards, a spokesperson for the governor, said California is reviewing all relationships between Walgreens and the state.
“We will not pursue business with companies that cave to right wing bullies pushing their extremist agenda or companies that put politics above the health of women and girls,” Richards said.
Walgreens (WBA) is facing significant backlash after responding to a letter from more than 20 Attorneys General, telling them that it does not intend to dispense abortion pills in states via mail order where it is illegal. Meanwhile, in a memo to employees obtained by Yahoo Finance, CEO Roz Brewer tried to assure them that the company would, as it has done all along, consider selling mifepristone in states where it is legal.
In a separate, but similar, controversial letter to Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach, Walgreens said it “does not intend to dispense mifepristone within your state and does not intend to ship Mifepristone into your state from any of our pharmacies. If this approach changes, we will be sure to notify you.”
But the response, similarly sent to the 20 other AGs in Republican-lead states, according to a report by Politico, has spurred criticism ranging from calls to withdraw its decision from U.S. lawmakers and an all out boycott of the drug chain giant on social media.
Various reports have erroneously said that Walgreens will stop dispensing the drug. In reality, it has not begun that process. Furthermore, would not be legally allowed to sell the drug in states with abortion bans in place.
“What we’re talking about hasn’t even happened. This is more about how will this affect access in the future,” said Alina Salganicoff, a senior vice president and the director of Women’s Health Policy at Kaiser Family Foundation.
The FDA decision in January to allow retail pharmacies to apply for approval to dispense the pill, known generically as mifepristone — a process which could take several months— is the reason behind the backlash. During the pandemic, the Biden administration temporarily waived restrictions on mail order for the pill, and in January made the change permanent.
In the internal memo, Brewer expressed an understanding of the sensitive issue.