CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — In some states, patients who take medicine used to treat autoimmune diseases are finding the drug hard to access following the Roe v. Wade decision. 

Earlier this month, medical journal BMJ said anti-abortion laws are now causing issues for patients in certain states trying to access the medication methotrexate, which a doctor says can also be used for a medical abortion. 

What You Need To Know

  • Methotrexate is a medication prescribed for arthritis and other autoimmune diseases

  • Medical journal BMJ reports issues with access to the medication, which can also be used for a medical abortion, in certain states

  • There are no reports of access issues in N.C. currently

Dr. Beth Jonas is chief of rheumatology, allergy and immunology at UNC’s School of Medicine. Methotrexate is a medication she’s used to prescribing. 

“Methotrexate is actually a medicine we have been using for decades for the treatment of arthritis and other autoimmune diseases," Jonas said. "It was actually approved by the FDA, probably in the mid-1980s, so we’ve been using it for a very long time.”

Methotrexate can also be used when a woman has what’s known as a tubal or ectopic pregnancy and her life is in danger.

"So, methotrexate is on the list of medicines that can be used for medical abortion," Jonas said. "There’s some concern that because of the recent Supreme Court decision that access to the medication may be limited.”

Jonas says she is not aware of any access issues in North Carolina, but says she and her colleagues know it is a concern in other areas of the country. 

“There really is no medicine just like it, so if access to this medication was limited, it would be really quite a detriment to patients who have been on this medicine and really need it," Jonas said.

This medication is used widely by people with lupus. 

“We are aware of reports that some people are having difficulty accessing methotrexate in the wake of the supreme court’s ruling," The Lupus Foundation of America said. "We are working with our medical scientific advisory council to guide our efforts so we can help ensure that people with lupus have access to the treatments they need.”