A Planned Parenthood nurse practitioner filed a complaint last Tuesday with the state of Illinois saying that a Walgreen pharmacist refused to dispense emergency contraception, in violation of state law. The nurse, Stephanie Cox, said she was told the store did not carry the drug (Plan B) and was not directed to another pharmacy, reports the Associated Press. When she later called the store manager, she was told that Plan B was in stock when she first called. “The sad thing is this gives pharmacists a bad name, and 99 percent are excellent members of the health team,” Cox told Copley News Service.
The Walgreen in question is located in West Peoria, IL, and a pharmacist in the same store allegedly refused to fill a prescription in March, as well, according to the Copley News Service. A hearing on that incident is scheduled for March 2006. In addition to the state inquiry, Walgreen is investigating the new complaint; already, it has put four of its pharmacists on unpaid suspension and fired one for refusing to comply with the state law.
Walgreen offered to transfer its suspended pharmacists to nearby Missouri, where there is no law about dispensing emergency contraception. However, Missouri Governor Matt Blunt (R) recently promised to support legislation allowing pharmacists to refuse EC prescriptions, prompting outrage from women’s groups in the state, reports Kaiser.