Abuse of Positions of Power - Pharmacists Gone Wild


In Washington, we're dealing with a little issue concerning personal freedom versus people using their positions of influence to mandate morality. A pharmacist doesn't want to sell Plan B - the "morning after" pill - because she says it violates her morals to do so. The thing that bothers me is that she chose to be a pharmacist, her job is to fill prescriptions, not make moral decisions about the prescriptions she's being asked to fill. Ugh, look - what would the response be if a Hindu told someone that selling them their heart or diabetes medication violated their morals because the drug was tested using bovine DNA? What about small towns where there is only one pharmacist in the area? If pharmacists are allowed to pick and choose what medicines they dispense based on their personal beliefs, what is to stop religious extremists from specifically choosing that career and implementing their morality on others in an underhanded fashion? Do I sound completely paranoid? If so, I would suggest you haven't been paying attention to the kind of tactics more extreme groups have employed in the recent past to circumvent the law and underhandedly violate the constitution.

Here's hoping they make the right decision and continue to expect pharmacists to do, I don't know, their job.

KENT, Wash. -- Hundreds of women gathered in a Kent courtroom Friday afternoon over the controversial morning after pill.

The Washington State Board of Pharmacy is considering changes to the way pharmacists hand out these types of prescriptions and held a public hearing Friday for public input.

Women from all over the state filled every chair and spilled out into the hallway, eager to tell the pharmacy board their opinions.

"I would prefer on my free time to go celebrate the victory of the Storm, but this is more of an important issue for women," said Betsy Shedd.

Betsy Shedd and several other women want the Board of Pharmacy to keep the current rules in place. As it stands, pharmacists must to fill all prescriptions of medicines they have in stock.

Dr. Patricia O'Halloran says that rule is violation of her religious rights.

“I would like to see them come out of this respecting and honoring the conscious rights of pharmacies and pharmacy owners," said O’Halloran.

So would attorney Kristen Waggoner, who represents the owners of Ralph's Pharmacy in Olympia. They're suing the Board of Pharmacy. Ralph’s Pharmacy doesn't want to be forced into filling Plan B prescriptions or any other drug like it.

“We will move forward and go to trial if the pharmacy board does not the pass the rule that allows our client to refer patients and that's because referrals are a time honored practice in all health care professions," said Waggoner. “A rule change in no way would better support a patient’s health."

The board says it's listening to all sides, and in the end they don't have to change the rules.

“We may just keep the rule as it is. We may amend an existing rule or we may start a new rule," said Gary Harris, Board of Pharmacy.

One of those rules up for discussion is the facilitated referral rule. If a pharmacist does not have a medicine in stock, he or she would be required to find another pharmacy close by that carries it.

The next hearing will be held September 25th in Kent. The Board says it will review all comments from this hearing, online and written letters before making a final decision sometime before December.