Thursday, December 01, 2005

A Future in Pharmaceutics

A Future in Pharmaceutics

A Future in Pharmaceutics (1998)

You, too, might have a future as a pill filler -- unless those convictions you carry away from church are not left in the umbrella stand at the door of your employer. From today's Boston Globe -- "Walgreens Places Four Pharmacists on Leave":

Walgreen Co. said it has put four Illinois pharmacists in the St. Louis area on unpaid leave for refusing to fill prescriptions for emergency contraception in violation of a state rule.

The four cited religious or moral objections to filling prescriptions for the morning-after pill and ''have said they would like to maintain their right to refuse to dispense, and in Illinois that is not an option," Walgreen spokeswoman Tiffani Bruce said.

A rule imposed by Governor Rod Blagojevich in April requires Illinois pharmacies that sell contraceptives approved by the US Food and Drug Administration to fill prescriptions for emergency birth control.

Pharmacies that do not fill prescriptions for any type of contraception are not required to follow the rule.

Ed Martin, an attorney for the pharmacists, on Tuesday called the discipline ''pretty disturbing" and said they would consider legal action if Walgreen doesn't reconsider.

At least six other pharmacists have sued over the rule, asserting it forces them to violate their religious beliefs.


Walgreen, based in Deerfield, Ill., put the four on leave Monday, Bruce said. She would not identify them. They will remain on unpaid leave ''until they either decide to abide by Illinois law or relocate to another state" without such a rule or law.

Walgreen policy says pharmacists can refuse to fill prescriptions to which they are morally opposed -- except where state law prohibits -- but they must take steps to have the prescription filled by another pharmacist or store, Bruce said.

How far backward do we have to bend to accommodate these would-be moral guardians who prefer dispensing spiritual Martial Law over filling prescriptions? If you have qualms of conscience about providing physician-prescribed prescriptions, maybe you should wander over to and seek other employment. Perhaps a career in the ministry would be a better fit.

But if you really insist on being a self-righteous pharmacist, can't you work within the frameworks of law and company policy? Illinois obviously has a law making explicitly clear that you must honor prescriptions if your pharmacy stocks the medicine. Here are two options that do not involve depriving customers of their prescriptions: 1) Relocate to another state (not Illinois or Wisconsin, say) that allows your freedom of conscience to run over patients' needs (like Mississippi, South Dakota, and Arkansas), or, 2) work for a company (not Walgreens) that chooses not to carry medicines you find morally objectionable (like the high grounded, ever open-minded Wal-Mart). Then, those of us who would enjoy having our prescriptions, which (by the way) are not illegal, conveniently filled without being forced to drive to another location because of your personal religious beliefs and moral scorn can do so. Because, you know, if someone is raped and needs a morning after pill, I really think the last thing she needs to see the day after such trauma and violence is this:

I'm sure your prescription falls under one of the Seven Deadly Sins...

[Illustration by Mark Alan Stamaty]

Yes, I understand there are plenty of examples of health care professionals refusing to participate in areas that give them the ethical heebee jeebies -- like the morning after pill, stem cell research, and assisted suicide. Still, even if you object, don't you have an obligation to refer the patient/customer to other agencies that will quickly provide the requested and even medically prescribed services? Better yet, perhaps you should specialize in a discipline that doesn't head-butt your moral certainty to the degree that you feel compelled to impose your private doctrine on others. After all, as documented by USA Today, what's up with this:

For a year, Julee Lacey stopped in a CVS pharmacy near her home in a Fort Worth suburb to get refills of her birth-control pills. Then one day last March, the pharmacist refused to fill Lacey's prescription because she did not believe in birth control.

"I was shocked," says Lacey, 33, who was not able to get her prescription until the next day and missed taking one of her pills. "Their job is not to regulate what people take or do. It's just to fill the prescription that was ordered by my physician."


Lacey, of North Richland Hills, Texas, filed a complaint with the Texas Board of Pharmacy after her prescription was refused in March. In February, another Texas pharmacist at an Eckerd drug store in Denton wouldn't give contraceptives to a woman who was said to be a rape victim.

In the Madison [Wisconsin] case, pharmacist Neil Noesen, 30, after refusing to refill a birth-control prescription, did not transfer it to another pharmacist or return it to the woman. She was able to get her prescription refilled two days later at the same pharmacy, but she missed a pill because of the delay.

And, really, is Cotton Mather now required reading in courses on pharmaceutics?

Sinners in the Hands of an Angry Pharmacist...

[Cartoon by David Horsey]

John Aravosis over at AMERICAblog had a noteworthy two cents:

I go to the pharmacy for medicine, not spiritual advice. If you're opposed to the death penalty, don't apply for a job as an executioner. If you're allergic to animals, don't become a vet. And if you hate kids, don't become a pediatrician. It's absurd that these people have decided to be pharmacists, then turn around and saying being a pharmacist is against their religion. Great, it's not against mine. Give me my damn prescription.

But let's freak out a little further. Will my neurosurgeon, a Christian Scientist, decide, on moral grounds, to forego medical treatment and instead use prayer to eclipse the corporeal reality of my brain aneurysm? Will my server holding down a McJob at McDonald's, after noticing my weight problem, decide not to honor my order of supersized fries but instead hand me directions to a Tofu Hut across town? In fact, will everyone everywhere suddenly refuse to do any kind of service whatsoever because in the next instant The Rapture may suddenly be upon us and make every service or duty or job or necessity or act or prescription completely and utterly and totally meaningless?

Hey. Hello. Eyes off the sky and look at me. Fill. My. Allergy. Meds. Do it, dude -- even if your moral schema is that God created ragweed to personally make my earthly existence a sneezing wheezing hell.


Anonymous said...

UCA Home-Bunnies

Brittany and Brad are knitting
A giant stocking for Christmas

Nobody expects them to set a Guinness
Book World Record or find a lump of coal

But fifteen to twenty bikes might run
A seam down their hosiery

Who knows what they will find
Inside that Big Sock

Maybe a commie-left-wing-professor
Maybe somebody running for political office

They could just pull it over their heads
In the name of Ronald Reagan

Inside that sock my varicose veins
Need more support

Dr. Mike

Neil Shakespeare said...

It's the old "Shame Game"! Used to be just for us boys that wuz buyin' condoms, but now they're givin' it to the girls too. What kind of a name is "Cotton" for a hell & brimstone preacher anyway?

cruelanimal said...

You're right about the shame game. Kinda makes me wanna loudly ask "Do I need to take this rectally?" every time I pick up a prescription -- you know, just to watch them blush.

Yeah, Cotton would make a wuss televangelist. Hmmm. How about Capote Mather instead? Wouldn't that help to spread the fear like a wildfire burning through the congregation?

idyllopus said...

Perfect peg on the "future in pharmaceutics" image.

AJ said...

Hey. Hello. Eyes off the sky and look at me. Fill. My. Allergy. Meds. Do it, dude ...

Excellent post! And where did you get those* nifty* very appropriate pic links?

Now...I guess I better cancel my 'Focus on the Family' periodical.....

cruelanimal said...

Thanks to you both for the above remarks.

I find the links pics from hunting and gathering excursions.

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