Washington pharmacists must dispense morning-after pill

According to Sci-Tech Today, pharmacists in Washington state will no longer have the right to refuse to dispense Barr Pharmaceuticals’ Plan B drug — the morning-after pill — based on their personal beliefs:

Pharmacists who believe “morning-after” birth control pills are tantamount to abortion cannot stand in the way of a patient’s right to the drugs, regulators in the U.S. state of Washington have decided. In a unanimous vote Thursday, the state Board of Pharmacy ruled that drug stores have a duty to fill lawful prescriptions despite an individual pharmacist’s personal objections to any particular medication. Pharmacists or drug stores that violate the rules could face discipline from the board, which has the power to revoke state licenses.

The Washington State Catholic Conference and Human Life Washington, an anti-abortion group, predicted a court challenge, saying the rule wrongly forces pharmacists to administer medical treatments they consider immoral.

The FDA made Plan B available over the counter to adults in August 2006. Last week, the Family Research Council and Concerned Women for America filed suit against the FDA over the ruling.

Earlier this year, pharmacy employees at an Ohio Wal-Mart made news when they refused to sell Plan B to 23-year-old Tashina Byrd. According to Byrd, the pharmacist laughed and told Byrd that while the Wal-Mart carried Plan B, no one there would sell it to her. Byrd said she left the store humiliated by the encounter.

Tashina’s experience points to one of the key reasons — besides lower costs — that more Americans are choosing to purchase prescription drugs online. Ordering medications over the Web is private and free from the unprofessional behavior of pharmacists like the one who embarrassed Tashina.

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