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Three cheers for Walgreens!


Walgreens takes four pharmacists to the woodshed for refusing to fill prescriptions for emergency contraception. Target needs to take a page from this book — don’t cave to the fundies. It also helps, of course, that Illinois requires the scripts to be filled, thanks to Gov. Rod Blagojevich. I’m sure this will spark another round of wingnut fighting.

Walgreen Co., the nation’s largest drugstore chain by revenue, said it has put four Illinois pharmacists in the St. Louis area on unpaid leave for refusing to fill prescriptions for emergency contraception in violation of a state rule.

The four cited religious or moral objections to filling prescriptions for the morning-after pill and “have said they would like to maintain their right to refuse to dispense, and in Illinois that is not an option,” Walgreen spokeswoman Tiffani Bruce said.

A rule imposed by Gov. Rod Blagojevich in April requires Illinois pharmacies that sell contraceptives approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to fill prescriptions for emergency birth control. Pharmacies that do not fill prescriptions for any type of contraception are not required to follow the rule.

Ed Martin, an attorney for the pharmacists, on Tuesday called the discipline “pretty disturbing” and said they would consider legal action if Walgreen doesn’t reconsider.

The article also notes that:
* The four pharmacists were the first Walgreen had disciplined under the state’s rule. Walgreen has 488 stores in Illinois, out of about 5,000 nationwide, with generally three to five pharmacists employed at each one.

* Eckerd and Brooks stores require its pharmacists to fill prescriptions for emergency contraception, but spokeswoman Helene Bisson wouldn’t say if Jean Coutu has taken action similar to Walgreen.

* CVS Corp., the nation’s largest retail pharmacy as measured by number of stores, did not immediately return calls.

Thanks to Blender Cat for the pointer.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding