UPDATE 2-Abortion drug maker drops challenge to Mississippi ban

(Adds comment from GenBioPro)

By Brendan Pierson

Aug 18 (Reuters) - A manufacturer of mifepristone, a drug used in medication abortions, on Thursday dropped its legal fight to sell the drug in Mississippi after the state banned nearly all abortions.

GenBioPro Inc said it was voluntarily dismissing its lawsuit in a filing in federal court in Jackson. The company had argued that federal regulators' approval of mifepristone to induce abortion at up to 10 weeks of pregnancy overrode the state's prohibition on nearly all abortions.

"Given the changed national landscape, we have decided to adjust our strategy and withdraw our existing case in Mississippi," the company said in a statement. "We are committed to using the law to remove unnecessary barriers for patients and providers and we look forward to making an announcement soon about our next steps."

"We are pleased to have again successfully defended Mississippi's abortion laws," Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch said in a statement.

Mississippi in 2007 passed a "trigger law" that would ban abortion with only narrow exceptions in the event that the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, its 1973 landmark ruling which established abortion rights nationwide.

The Supreme Court did that in June in Dobbs v. Jackson, opening the door to new abortion bans around the country. About half of U.S. states are expected to ban or restrict abortion or have already done so in the wake of Dobbs.

GenBioPro had first sued the state in 2019 to challenge restrictions on mifepristone, including a ban on prescribing it through telemedicine. After the trigger law took effect, the company argued that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's approval of mifepristone shielded the drug from the new ban.

More than half of abortions in the U.S. are performed through medication. Even before Dobbs, state laws making it difficult to access abortion fueled increasing demand for the pills, which some women have bought online from overseas illegally. (Reporting by Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Leslie Adler, Stephen Coates and Diane Craft)