No Law Requires Pharmacist to Fill A Prescription

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Idaho Board of Pharmacy completed its investigation into a complaint from a Planned Parenthood nurse practitioner who alleged that a pharmacist refused to fill a prescription.

"The board basically told us that according to Idaho law, there is no duty to dispense any drug," Kristen Glundberg-Prossor, director of public affairs for Planned Parenthood, told Citydesk. "In essence, they told us no harm, no foul."

On November 6, a nurse practitioner called in a prescription to a Nampa Walgreens. The request was for Methergine (methylergonovine maleate), a semi-synthetic drug used for the prevention and control of hemorrhaging of the uterus following childbirth or an abortion. The Planned Parenthood employee said the pharmacist asked if the drug was related to an abortion. When the practitioner refused to answer, she said she was hung up on. The incident represented a full-on challenge to Idaho's Freedom of Conscience Act, approved by the Idaho Legislature in 2010. The measure allows pharmacists to refuse dispensation of abortifacients or emergency contraception. Methergine is neither, so the practitioner lodged a formal complaint.

"But they told us that there is no provision within the Idaho Pharmacy Act that mandates that a pharmacist fill a prescription," said Glundberg-Prossor. "What that means is that any pharmacist can refuse to fill any prescription at any time for any reason."

Glundberg-Prossor told Citydesk that her organization had no recourse.

"They're telling us that there's no protection for patients in Idaho," she said. "They also told us that our patient wasn't in any grave danger because she eventually accessed the medication. My response to that would be that if she wasn't in an urban setting there probably wouldn't have been anywhere else to get her prescription filled. Methergine is a drug that stops internal bleeding. To be denied that, she would have ended up in an emergency room."