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     Pharmacists Not Filling Birth Control Prescriptions
    Opinion: Politics
    I have no opinion to offer on whether Pharmacists should or should not offer Birth Control Pill. I do have an opinion on whether the noise, about a few Pharmacists refusing to fill birth control prescriptions, will all subside soon in Minnesota.

    This story appeared in the Star Tribune and mirrors what the media portrays as a nationwide movement of Pharmacists refusing to dispense birth control.

    This will blow over without legislative interference. This is the hot media topic of the month. The media has merely turned an eye on a practice that has existed since birth control pills became available. The media is portraying this as a growing trend, but not that the problem is widespread yet. I think the only growing trend is the media coverage of it.

    Because Pharmacists are licensed by a state board, the state can impose conditions of their licensing. That is the battle shaping up in many other states as to how they will frame it. Therefore, if a Pharmacy carries a med, the law may force dispensation by a licensed Pharmacist, (or allow refusal depending on the state law).

    The Minnesota Board of Pharmacy rule 6800.2250 – Professional Conduct covers the "prohibited conduct" in which these Pharmacists engaged.

    Prohibited Conduct
    ... Subpart 1

    C. Refusing to compound and dispense prescriptions that may reasonably be expected to be compounded or dispensed in Pharmacies by Pharmacists, except as provided for in Minnesota Statutes, sections 145.414 and 145.42. ...

    Therefore, these Pharmacists may have their license revoked, and might be fired for cause. The consumers probably cannot sue. Pain and suffering would be a stretch. The Pharmacists could appeal through the courts, but the courts will probably abide by the decision of the board.

    It shapes up to be more of a owner vs. employee issue. If a person works for Snyders, and if he or she refuses to fill a customer's order, that person could and should be fired. However, if Snyders decides as a corporate policy that they will not dispense a particular drug, they should not be forced by law to sell it. Same thing applies for the owner of an independent Pharmacy. It comes down to that fact it is not the employee's choice, it is the shop owner's choice. If birth control is the number one prescribed drug in the country; and likely the most profitable at a retail level. it would not make good business sense to refuse to sell it if it is legal. Many women take certain birth control pills just to alleviate a medical condition.

    I do not think the state cannot force a _store_ to stock a med or a company to traffic in it, which would be restraint of trade. Years ago, the opposite problem existed where some state laws existed that prohibited Pharmacies from carrying birth control. These were overturned as unfair restraint of trade. Not all Pharmacies carry all drugs in stock anyway. Sometimes you have to wait a couple of days for the supplier to fill a prescription. That applies to all meds from birth control to pre-natal vitamins.

    Look at the debate of Sudafed, the irreplaceable ingredient in Meth. The state is going have a legal battle about how to force stores to maintain control of their stock of Pseudo ephedrine. Pharmacies also stock Methadone, cigarettes, prescription painkillers, liquor (some states), condoms, racy exploitative magazines, rap music, and all sorts of non-prescription meds that can be abused (sudafed, ex lax, ipecac. Where does it end? Just what level of morals are we talking about here? )

    One example case being used for debate is: What about the patient seeking emergency birth control that gets refused service? Until recently, the morning after pill was not a readily available med anyway. Regular birth control pills are prescription only. The Morning after pill was recently made non-prescription in Canada, but the FDA rejected that proposal in the United States. Therefore, you still need a prescription from a doctor, who would either supply the drug or suggest where it could be obtained without issue. Docs know their Pharmacists pretty well and vice versa. If it was an emergency, a person could go to the local hospital emergency room or a Planned Parenthood clinic.

    Another example in the debate is: What would a person in a small town do if the town pharmacy does not carry a certain drug on moral grounds; it would not be easy to drive to the next town to get the drug filled. The doctor and the pharmacist work closely together. If word got back to a doc that a med was not available at a certain location, he would find another way to get it. Docs have their own supplies too. Take Ely, Minnesota. This is a town “at the end of the road” so to speak. Yet, if meds were not available at any of the 8 pharmacies in Ely a local doctor would provide what was needed by having it shipped from Eveleth, Duluth, Minneapolis, or Chicago - whatever it takes. Forcing a business to carry stock is unfairly restrictive. We dictate when liquor stores can operate, but not whether they must carry Budweiser. Forcing a business to carry stock, profitable or not, is unfairly restrictive and probably would not bear up in a constitutional examination.

    Posted on Wednesday, May 04, 2005 @ 17:49:25 UTC by BB
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