Nearly three months after hearing oral arguments, a divided Fifth Circuit panel issued its decision in Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. FDA, upholding the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (“FDA”) underlying approval of Mifepristone in 2000, but reinstating the limitations and restrictions under the pre-2016 protocol. Despite rejecting Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk’s blanket suspension of the drug’s approval, the federal appeals court found that the FDA overstepped its authority in expanding access and loosening restrictions on the drug in 2016 and 2021. Specifically, the Fifth Circuit agreed with the lower court’s ruling to invalidate the FDA’s modifications that increased the gestational age and relaxed dispensing requirements such as allowing the drug to be dispensed through the mail and ordered by a non-physician. The 96-page ruling issued by the conservative three-judge panel will likely not have any immediate legal effect, and Mifepristone will remain broadly available due to the Supreme Court’s stay implemented earlier this year.
Calla Simeone is an associate in the Business Trial Practice Group in the firm's Washington, D.C. office and a member of the firm’s Healthcare Team.