The Supreme Court’s Decision On Abortion Pills Could Cause Seismic Shakeup New Drugs Development

( – Abortion has been a hot-button topic for a long time, but it got thrown to the forefront when the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022. Since then, several states have enacted their own laws, whether codifying women’s rights in the state constitution or banning the procedure. Now, the Supreme Court has heard another argument on the issue, this time involving mifepristone, one of the two drugs used to terminate a pregnancy. Its decision could ultimately have a significant impact on drug development.

On Tuesday, March 26, a group of anti-abortion doctors presented their arguments before the Supreme Court as to why the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) broadened access to mifepristone caused moral harm. The FDA loosened restrictions in 2016 and again in 2021, giving patients access to the drug via telehealth and mail order. The plaintiffs in Food and Drug Administration v Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine are seeking nationwide restrictions, which would have the court directly calling into question the FDA’s expert judgment on the drug.

During the oral arguments, the justices seemed skeptical of the plaintiffs, especially noting that those who brought the suit don’t prescribe the pills nor treat abortion patients on a regular basis. But there are other implications, too.

The main question posed in this suit is whether or not courts can, or should, play a role in determining a drug’s efficacy or safety. Should the Supreme Court rule that they do, it could potentially change the entire landscape of drug development. If the FDA is undermined, that could have global impacts. Ovid Therapeutics CEO Jeremy Levin says, “It would be a catastrophic event,” because “FDA approvals are stamps of approval around the world, with many countries depending entirely on it.” Take away that authority, and it creates an uncertain atmosphere in the industry.

Not only that, it could pave the way for a multitude of lawsuits challenging other drugs on the market, from vaccines to experimental drugs, especially if there’s no established timeline to issue such challenges.

The Supreme Court justices are expected to issue a decision sometime this summer.

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