MAY 01, 2006

The increasingly contentious "conscience-clause" battle between Illinois pharmacists and the state's governor over access to emergency contraceptives is heating up again. The latest wrinkle is new rules proposed by the state's Department of Financial and Professional Regulation requiring every Illinois pharmacy to post a sign with information about a woman's right to obtain prescriptions to prevent pregnancy.

That proposal was prompted by reports that some pharmacists in the state have been attempting to get around new state rules requiring all pharmacies to carry contraceptive products. Under the plan, the sign will disclose that the pharmacy must take one of the following actions: provide a medically acceptable alternative drug; order the medication from the pharmacy's supplier if the patient requests it; transfer the prescription to a different pharmacy per the patient's request; and return the prescription order to the patient if asked.

The sign also will provide patients with a toll-free pharmacy hot-line number and a Web site address if they wish to file a complaint for unfair treatment by the pharmacy.

Additionally, Gov Rod R. Blagojevich (D, Ill) has fired off a new round of letters to all of the state's licensed pharmacists reminding them of their legal obligation to fill prescriptions for contraceptives without delay.