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February 24, 2006

I’m sorry, it’s store policy

There is no Kentucky law governing a pharmacist’s right to refuse to dispense medication based on personal beliefs, which leaves it up to individual pharmacies whether to fill prescriptions for drugs like Plan B. Here are some of the policies of Louisville’s major chain pharmacies, as well as Planned Parenthood. Wal-Mart: The retail giant has been cited in the news for its refusal to carry Plan B. In response to a phone inquiry last week, PR rep Lara Stott e-mailed Wal-Mart’s statement on medication stocked in the pharmacy: “In areas where we do not carry a particular medication, we can refer customers to pharmacies that do.” Asked to elaborate, she did not respond. Target: A local Target pharmacist who wished to remain anonymous told LEO: “We are allowed to carry it; it basically depends on the pharmacist. If we don’t fill it, we make reference to a pharmacy nearby. We don’t have it in stock now, but some Targets do.” CVS: A local CVS pharmacist told LEO: “We do not carry it. I have not seen a policy on it.” A PR rep for the company did not return phone calls.Walgreens: Spokesman Michael Polzin said in a phone interview last week: “We stock it in our pharmacies as we would any other medication, according to demand. Our policy is that we want to respect the views of our pharmacists while still meeting the health care needs of our patients. We feel we can do that by allowing the pharmacists to step away from filling a prescription they have a moral objection to. However, the pharmacist must refer that prescription to another pharmacist on duty,” or alert store management. Management will arrange to have it filled at a nearby pharmacy, before the patient leaves the store, he said. One caveat is that where applicable, state law trumps store policy. Rite Aid: A local pharmacist told LEO there is no specific store policy regarding Plan B, and that the Taylor Boulevard location carries it. A phone message left at the corporate office last week was not returned.Kroger: Pharmacists are allowed to refuse service if they’re uncomfortable filling a certain prescription, according to a local pharmacist there. However, Kroger will stock Plan B where there is demand for it. Meijer: Does not carry it because of low demand. However, there is no formal policy on Plan B. Pharmacist Ed Wahl said the pharmacy would start carrying it if the demand was there (he said he’s filled about one prescription for it in the last year and a half), and that while pharmacists are allowed the right to refuse to fill a prescription, he doesn’t believe morality belongs in the pharmacy. Planned Parenthood: The non-profit carries Plan B and will prescribe it without an appointment.