Senate Bill 2960 has been introduced to the 114th Congress by Sen Cory Booker, (D) New Jersey, to force pharmacists to dispense all drugs and devices approved by the FDA to “prevent pregnancy”. Many of these drugs work by multiple mechanisms, and a section of the bill forbids informing patients of the possible abortive mechanisms, labeling this as deceptive. Another section of the bill invites patients to sue the pharmacist who does not give them birth control. Clinical reasons for refusing to dispense are supposedly allowed, but pharmacists will need to be prepared to pay lawyers, court costs, fines, and argue these reasons out in a courtroom. A desire to avoid dispensing drugs which can act by abortive mechanisms, is not considered a valid reason for refusing to dispense birth control.
The morning after pills are addressed in this bill as drugs which must be dispensed, although they are ineffective in half of American women, who are too big for the dose to work, and poorly effective in additional portions of the female population. If they do stop pregnancy, this is more likely to be accomplished by mechanisms which occur after fertilization than beforehand.
Interestingly, Sen. Booker’s bill seems to allow that if a pharmacy does not stock any birth control in the normal course of business, it is not required to distribute the drugs. Conversely, if your pharmacy has some birth control pills, you would be expected to dispense these AND the fairly useless, morning after pills.
Lawsuits will abound if this bill passes, as its medical and regulatory basis is very poor, its constitutional basis is absent, and it leaves pharmacists liable to legal repercussions, even if they adhere to the letter of the law. Displaying medical and legal incompetence along with Cory Booker are Senators Baldwin, Blumenthal, Boxer, Brown, Feinstein, Franken, Gillibrand, Hirono, Kaine, Markey, Menendez, Merkley, Murray, Sanders, Shaheen, Warren, Whitehouse, and Wyden.
Pharmacists, check out S. 2960, and see if you think it’s time to leave retail pharmacy to the robots.