AAPA Joins Amicus Brief to Protect PA Practice

February 12, 2024

Together with the Association of PAs in Obstetrics and Gynecology (APAOG), the American College of Nurse Midwives (ACNW), and the National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health (NPWH), AAPA has joined an amicus brief regarding a court case from the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit that has been appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS).

The case, The Food and Drug Administration v. Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, concerns mifepristone, which the FDA first approved in 2000 as safe and effective for patient use. The Fifth Circuit opinion held, in part, that PAs are unqualified and should not be certified independent prescribers of mifepristone.

“As PAs, our job is to provide comprehensive unbiased care to all patients, and having restrictions regarding our prescriptive authority of mifepristone jeopardizes that,” APAOG President Melanie Lucks, MMS, PA-C, said. “Therefore, APAOG contributed to the amicus brief in collaboration with AAPA, NPWH, and ACNM to bring attention to this issue and help fight for increased access to this medication, which is an essential part of PA ob/gyn clinical practice.”

In the amicus brief, AAPA demonstrates that PAs are qualified healthcare providers and that the Fifth Circuit ruling should be overturned. SCOTUS is scheduled to hear oral arguments in this case on March 26.

“The Fifth Circuit ruling to strip away prescribing rights for PAs and other highly qualified healthcare providers is a dangerous precedent that not only threatens access to women’s reproductive health but also paves the way for additional overreach into medical matters that should be determined by science, not the courts,” AAPA President and Chair of the Board Folusho E. Ogunfiditimi, DM, MPH, PA-C, DFAAPA, said.


When were PAs approved as mifepristone prescribers?

Following the FDA’s approval of mifepristone in 2000, PAs were not eligible to become certified independent prescribers of the medication.

In 2016, the FDA determined that certain providers, including PAs, could become certified independent prescribers of mifepristone.


What is an amicus brief?

An amici curiae, translated from Latin, means “friend of the court.” Commonly filed during the appeals process of a legal proceeding, amicus briefs are submitted by individuals or organizations who are not party to the case, but who offer, or are invited by the court, to advise on a matter before the court.

There are both state and federal laws that govern the content, timing, and the manner in which an amicus can participate.


What did the amicus brief say? 

The brief outlines arguments in response to the Fifth Circuit opinion including:

  • PAs meet rigorous education and certification requirements to practice as vital providers in the U.S. healthcare system.
  • PAs achieve the same, or better, health outcomes as physicians and provide follow-up care as indicated.
  • PAs regularly provide care that is more complex than the prescription of mifepristone.