California won’t renew $54 million contract with Walgreens

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday that California will not renew its multimillion dollar contract with Walgreens after the company said it would not dispense medication abortion in multiple states where abortion is legal.

The California Department of General Services issued a formal notice “withdrawing a planned renewal of that agreement set to take effect on May 1, 2023” and “will explore other options for furnishing the same services,” according to a statement from Newsom’s office.

“Under this contract, Walgreens has received about $54 million from the State,” the statement said.

“California will not stand by as corporations cave to extremists and cut off critical access to reproductive care and freedom,” Newsom said. “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.”

A Walgreens store in Los Angeles. Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP file

Walgreens did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Walgreens announced its abortion pills decision last week after facing mounting pressure from a group of Republican attorney generals — in states where abortion is legal and illegal — who told the company in a letter that it could face legal consequences if it sold medication like mifepristone, a common abortion pill, in their states.

On Monday, Newsom said the state wouldn’t do business with Walgreens as a result of that decision.

“California won’t be doing business with @walgreens — or any company that cowers to the extremists and puts women’s lives at risk. We’re done,” he tweeted at the time.

A spokesperson for the governor, Brandon Richards, said in a statement to NBC News on Monday that “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 added.

Fraser Engerman, a spokesperson for Walgreens, told NBC News last week that the company was “not dispensing mifepristone at this time. We intend to become a certified pharmacy under the program, however we will only dispense in those jurisdictions where it is legal to do if we are certified.”

“This is a very complex and in-flux area of the law and we are taking that into account as we seek certification to dispense Mifepristone,” he added.

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