Maloney Calls for Passage of Access to Legal Pharmaceuticals Act As Huntington, NY Pharmacist Refuses to Fill Birth Control Prescription

Aug 22, 2005
Press Release

 WASHINGTON, DC - On Monday Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) joined local activists in Huntington, NY to call for passage of The Access to Legal Pharmaceuticals Act (ALPhA), legislation introduced by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) which seeks to protect the right of individual pharmacists to refuse to fill a prescription, while ensuring that pharmacies will fill all prescriptions without delay or harassment, even if a different pharmacist has to do it. Maloney and Israel are concerned by a report that a pharmacist at the Pathmark in Dix Hills refused to fill a prescription in March for emergency contraception pills and did not refer the medical professional calling in the prescription to another pharmacist at the store or to another pharmacy.  

"Filling prescriptions is a pharmacists job and if they are unwilling to do it, they have an ethical and a legal obligation to make sure someone else in the pharmacy will," noted Israel. "They cannot endanger a patient's health, and they cannot make fundamental health decisions in contravention of a doctors orders. Today it is a woman seeking birth control. Tomorrow it could be antidepressants to help patients with depression. Next year it might be medicine that prolongs the life of an AIDS patient. This legislation strikes the perfect balance between protecting the rights and safety of patients while not jeopardizing the rights of the pharmacists and its time for Congress to act."

"Women right here in New York are walking into pharmacies with legal prescriptions to be filled and walking out with nothing. That's not what should happen when you go to a drug store," said Maloney. "Some have thought that this is just a Red State issue, but if it can happen on Long Island, it can happen anywhere. Access to birth control is a legal right and a private matter, not to be tampered with by a pharmacist with an agenda."

"Contraception is basic health care and women should not be forced to go from pharmacy to pharmacy before their valid, legal prescriptions are filled," added Schiffrin, President/CEO of Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic. "The Access to Legal Pharmaceuticals Act makes sure that pharmacies treat every customer the same and that any customer who brings a prescription into a pharmacy will get it filled without delay or discrimination."

ALPhA [HR 1652], introduced in the House by Rep. Maloney in April, protects an individual’s access to legal contraception by requiring that if a pharmacist has a personal objection to filling a legal prescription for a drug or device, the pharmacy will be required to ensure that another pharmacist employed by the pharmacy who does not have a personal objection fills the prescription. Pharmacists would not be able to prevent or deter an individual from filling or transferring a legal prescription under ALPhA. The pharmacist would not be able to harass, humiliate, or intentionally breach the confidentiality of the individual attempting to fill the prescription and it would have to be filled without delay.