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Pharmacist Opt-Out Bill Stirs Controversy in Nevada Government

Last week the Nevada State Board of Pharmacy debated over a controversial bill that would allow pharmacists to refuse to fill a prescription based on their own personal principles or consciences. Critics of the bill contend that it could limit access to birth control or HIV/AIDS related drugs and see it as an ideological move, rather than one based in the science of medicine.

The proposal includes language that says that pharmacists who refuse to fill prescriptions must arrange to have the prescription filled by another pharmacist as soon as possible. The pharmacists would not be allowed to tell the patient why their prescription had been denied. The pharmacy could not object to or discipline the rejecting pharmacist for their refusal.

Ray Seidlinger, Nevada Board of Pharmacy member, had the bill shelved for the time being, at the October 27 meeting at the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce. Language in the bill says that the pharmacist must voice their moral opinion before any refusal to fill takes place.

In two previous legislative sessions similar bills failed.

Several opposition groups have been vocal in their conflict with the bill’s aims. They make the claim that only a physician has the clinical judgment to make the call if a drug can be prescribed or not. Judging the legitimacy of a drug’s intent is the job of the prescribing doctor and not a retail-pharmacist, they counter.

Across the country some 46 states have morality clauses in effect for pharmacists. In twelve of those states, the medication relates to abortion and contraception, and in the others only abortion.

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