Physicians Denounce Pharmacist "Conscience Clause" Protections

Pharmacy Times, Volume 0,0

Pharmacists who exercise their"conscience clause" rights to refuse todispense birth control products or"morning after" abortion pills aredrawing fire from organized medicine.

A resolution passed by delegates tothe American Medical Association(AMA) annual convention calls onpharmacists who object to filling a prescriptionfor moral or religious reasonsto make an "immediate referral to anappropriate alternative dispensingpharmacy without interference."

Noting that pharmacist refusals tofill prescriptions due to moral concerns"are becoming increasingly common," the AMA resolution concludes that"these developments interfere withpatient ability to implement physiciantreatment plans and create barriers tocare, patient abandonment, and potentialdiscrimination issues."

The delegates directed AMA staff toenter into discussions with the AmericanPharmaceutical Association, theAmerican Society of Health-SystemPharmacists, and other pharmacyorganizations to resolve the issue.

If negotiations with pharmacy leadersdo not work, the resolution calls onthe AMA to secure permission for doctorsto dispense drugs to their ownpatients if no pharmacist within a 30-mile radius is willing to do so.

Mr. Rankin is a freelance medical writer.