Monday, March 6, 2006
Wal-Mart, Bowing to Market Forces (of all things), Reinstates Plan B Contraceptive to Its Pharmacopeia
Wal-Mart announced last Friday that it would start selling the emergency contraceptive Plan B on March 20. It had pulled the drug as a "corporate conscientious objector," which prompted a Massachusetts lawsuit and an order last month to start stocking the drug in the Bay State. Illinois also requires pharmacies to stock the drug. (AP/MyWay) Pharmacists.com has links to relevant Massachusetts and Illinois resources. Wal-Mart said "we feel it is difficult to justify being the country's only major pharmacy chain not selling [the Plan B contraceptive]." (Wal-Mart statement)
The AP story reports that Wal-Mart owns 3,700 pharmacies, and the retailing giant says it plans to continue its policy of honoring conscientious objection by individual pharmacists, in accordance "with the tenets of the American Pharmaceutical Association." I had a hard time finding anything concrete on this over at the APhA website. In a news release last December, there was this statement:
APhA supports the ability of a pharmacist to excuse him/herself from certain activities; much the same way doctors, nurses and other health professionals excuse themselves. But in contrast to the approach taken by other healthcare professionals, APhA's endorsement of the ability to 'step away' comes with an additional task – the establishment of alternative systems to ensure that the patient gets clinically safe, legally prescribed therapy. This duty is entirely in keeping with the Pharmacist’s Code of Ethics and forms the bedrock of our accountability to individual patients."
See also APhA's congressional testimony on conscientious objection and small pharmacies. I think the text of actual policy statements on this subject isn't available to non-members. [tm]