Pharmacists Don’t Want to Sell Morning After Pill Despite FDA Approval

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 4, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Pharmacists Don’t Want to Sell Morning After Pill Despite FDA Approval Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 4
, 2006

Washington, DC ( — The Food and Drug Administration may have approved sales of the morning after pill over the counter, but some pharmacists are reluctant to sell the drug. The agency’s move to sell Plan B without a prescription may expand the nationwide debate about a conscience clause for pharmacists to allow them to opt out of dispensing the drug.

In Washington state, Jim Ramseth, the owner of Covington Pharmacy, doesn’t want to sell the morning after pill because he believes it can work as an abortion drug.

Ramseth says he and many of his colleagues believe the drug can prevent the fertilized human embryo from implanting into her mother’s uterus and begin the growing process. As a result, a unique human being is destroyed.

"Everybody draws their own lines," Ramseth told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer arguing for a conscience clause.

"And if a person’s purpose is to kill a fertilized egg, then I disagree with that. Regardless of where the practitioner draws that line, they should have the right," he added.

If someone asks him for the drug, he would give them a sheet of 11 nearby pharmacies and tell customers they need to find another store that carries it.

"I don’t know exactly who’s carrying it because I’m not going to call and find out," he told the newspaper. "I believe people should be responsible for themselves. They can make a phone call."

When told that, in Illinois and Massachusetts, pharmacies have been forced to stock the morning after pill, he called government decisions there "totalitarian."

"As a professional, the pharmacist should be able to draw their own line as to where they want to participate in patents’ care — much like any other medical profession," Ramseth explained. "We’ve all sat side by side with patients and counseled them on things we felt were inappropriate in some manner."

Ramseth also says there is very little customer demand for the drug and he’s reluctant to purchase a large quantity of the Plan B pills and have them sit on the shelves.

Other pharmacists, such as Jerry Leonard, pharmacy director at Drug Emporium in Charleston, West Virginia, are worried about other issues resulting from over the counter sales.

"We still don’t know where it (should be) kept," he told the Charleston Daily Mail newspaper. "We have to look at risk management issues and we need to know where is the liability if there are complications, which certainly could be more than with your average over-the-counter product."

"At this point, we are not moving or taking any steps at all toward making it available until after we’ve clarified what the potential problems or liabilities might be," he added.

Leonard echoed Ramseth’s comments by saying that customers at his store aren’t asking for the morning after pill.

"We’ve never stocked the drug, not because we have any corporate problem with it, but just because we’ve never had the demand," he said.

Jeff Fulks, a pharmacist at Bee Well Pharmacy in South Charleston, is another who has moral concerns about the morning after pill.

"It interferes with conception, and if it’s a situation where it interferes with life, then they’re still going to have a difficult time getting me to distribute it," he told the newspaper.

With so many pharmacists have logistical, business or moral concerns about the drug, the drumbeat for conscience clauses and exceptions to requirements to sell it may get louder as state legislatures head back into session next year following the elections.