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Survey of Top Pharmacy Chains' Policies on Pharmacist Refusals

NEW YORK A recent Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) investigation of leading pharmacy chains reveals that Kmart, Costco, and CVS top the list of friendly pharmacies that fill birth control prescriptions. Wal-Mart and Rite Aid landed at the bottom of the list as most unfriendly, due to policies that allow pharmacists to refuse to fill valid prescriptions based on their personal objections.

"We applaud pharmacies that put patients first by ensuring their prescriptions will be filled," said PPFA Interim President Karen Pearl. "It is unacceptable for anyone to try to interfere in the doctor-patient relationship by imposing their own views. We will hold these chains accountable and expose their refusal policies."

The survey, which was initiated following alarming reports of pharmacists refusing to fill valid prescriptions, was sent to the top 50 pharmacy retail chains, and it received 12 responses. Responses were categorized based on Planned Parenthood's position that patients' access to services should not be compromised or delayed by a pharmacist's personal beliefs. Pharmacies that did not respond or whose response indicated no clear policy were listed as having "Unknown Policies," and included such chains as Target and Duane Reade. The complete survey results are can be found on http://www.fillmypillsnow.org/, a new Web site devoted to the issue of pharmacist refusals.

"Women have a right to know, when they go to fill their prescriptions, whether they can expect to be treated with dignity and respect, or whether they will face discrimination at the hands of extremists who seek to force their own views on others" added Pearl, "With instances of pharmacists refusing to dispense medications apparently on the rise, pharmacies should clarify their policies. If women know they run the risk of being humiliated at the counter, they may think twice before they patronize that pharmacy."

The new Web site, http://www.fillmypillsnow.org/, is a tool for concerned citizens, which will allow them to voice their opinions, share their stories, find up-to-the-minute facts about this new form of discrimination, and take action to create change. A "Take Action" button urges readers to write to pharmacies that received a "thumbs up" rating and express their approval, as well as to pharmacies that received "thumbs down" or "unknown" ratings to insist they change or clarify their policies. The Web site also includes an updated state-by-state legislative guide mapping pharmacist refusal laws and proposed bills along with a community action guide about how to fight them. FillMyPillsNow.org will also document instances of pharmacist refusals by inviting women to send in reports of having been refused.

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Contacts

Daedre Levine (212) 261-4549

Published: 05.25.05 | Updated: 05.25.05

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