services 10.26.05

Dispense as Written. Or Not.

Last week, as soon as we'd mentioned that Thomas O'Brien had designed home accessories for Target, we got letters alerting us to what happened at a Target store in Fenton, Missouri on September 30. The pharmacist there refused to fill a woman's prescription for emergency contraception. Since then, the company has declined to discuss their storewide policy in such cases. And on Sunday, the Arizona Daily Star reported that it took a Tucson rape victim three days to obtain a morning-after pill.

The law is still developing on the issue of pharmacists who refuse, for any reason, to dispense medication. Target may be in a particularly sticky spot because Missouri is one of four states that specifically allow pharmacists to follow their conscience (NY is not one of them). A number of other states are considering such legislation. As a result, Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), and Rep. Christopher Shays (R-CT) are sponsoring a bill called the Access to Legal Pharmaceuticals Act. There are a number of petitions circulating in support of this legislation; NARAL's is here.

We wondered how the local and national chains in New York were dealing with this issue. Jody Cook, a Rite-Aid spokesman, told MUG: "Our patients' needs are our first priority. For any legal prescription, it's the job of the pharmacist to see that the prescription is filled in a timely manner." That sounds definitive, until she adds that if a pharmacist objected to a prescription, "It is their responsibility to fill it or someone else at the pharmacy would fill it."

At CVS, Todd Andrews, Director of Corporate Communications, said, "Our policy is to dispense emergency and every-day contraceptives. If a pharmacist has a sincerely-held belief that he or she feels prevents them from fulfilling the prescription, they are protected under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. If they want to invoke that protection, they must tell us before a situation arises so that we can make arrangements beforehand so any customer is taken care of as quickly as possible - as any quickly as any other customer. The pharmacist is strictly prohibited from sharing their view - no lecture or discussion. We dispense. Our policy is to dispense."

Despite repeated attempts, no spokesperson from Duane Reade would make themselves available to discuss the subject. To our way of thinking, just another reason not to shop there.

It's probably fair to say that most New Yorkers would defend to the death your right to your views, whether or not we share them. But if we have a legitimate prescription to a legal medication and we come to your pharmacy, your views are utterly irrelevant. In that context, don't mistake us for someone who cares.
Femme Sud is a new, fun line of handbags. The Ex Libris line is six bags, produced in limited editions, designed to look like books.

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