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AMA backs bills requiring pharmacies to fill prescriptions or provide referrals


CHICAGO - The American Medical Association voted yesterday to put its weight behind legislative initiatives around the United States requiring pharmacies to fill legally valid prescriptions in the wake of recently publicized refusals by pharmacists opposed to dispensing morning-after contraception.

If the pharmacist has objections, pharmacies should provide for an "immediate referral to an appropriate alternative dispensing pharmacy without interference," according to the resolution passed by the group's policymaking House of Delegates.

The AMA's action comes after several instances in which pharmacists have raised conscientious objections to dispensing certain drugs, particularly contraceptives such as the morning-after contraceptive called Plan B.

The AMA has decided to weigh in because doctors want to ensure their patients are getting the prescriptions they need without interruption at the pharmacy counter. If a pharmacist has a moral objection, there should at least be a plan to get the drug as quickly as possible to the patient through other means, doctors have testified this week at their annual meeting.

The AMA's policy would be similar to that of the nation's largest pharmacy chain, Walgreen Co.

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