Plan B and unfair dispensing practices

May 21, 2007

Many pharmacists will dispense oral contraceptives yet balk at dispensing Plan B. The author believes this practice is inconsistent.

Do pharmacists have the right to refuse to dispense? Is EC abortion? These questions have been hotly debated within and outside the profession. In this confusion, some R.Ph.s have adopted an oral contraceptive (OC) dispensing practice that's inconsistent and ignorant: They refuse to dispense Plan B, erroneously labeled as abortive therapy, while simultaneously dispensing traditional OCs-e.g., Ortho Tri-Cyclen (norgestimate/ethinyl estradiol, Ortho-McNeil) or Mircette (desogestrel/ethinyl estradiol, Duramed)-when there is no mechanistic difference between these products. This behavior is distressing yet common, and it demonstrates the effects of politicizing belief systems and scientific debates.

The beginning of life is a personal judgment founded on ethical, moral, and spiritual beliefs that cannot be confirmed nor unproven scientifically. No one should be coerced into practices that violate their values, morals, or ethics. Pharmacists should be able to refuse to participate in practices they believe infringe upon their morals, as long as reasonable alternative means exist for the patient.