Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Connecticut Stands Up To The Beast

Connecticut is the latest state to stand up to Wal-Mart. They're threatening to exclude Wal-Mart pharmacies from the state insurance network - which covers 188,000 state employees - if the retailer fails to ensure distribution of the Plan B emergency contraceptive.
[The dispute began last month when] ...a Wal-Mart spokesman said the chain would maintain its "conscientious objection" policy, which allows Wal-Mart or Sam's Club pharmacists who do not feel comfortable dispensing a prescription to refer customers to another pharmacist or pharmacy. The policy conforms to guidelines of the American Pharmaceutical Association and is similar to the policies of several other major pharmacy chains. [...]

[State comptroller] Wyman responded to the company in a letter that she needs "an assurance that there will be someone on duty in each of your pharmacies willing to dispense Plan B." If there is no one on duty, Wyman wants specific information from Wal-Mart on how the company would ensure the patient's ability to receive the drug. [...]

A Wal-Mart spokesman said Thursday that the company could comply with the state's requirements by referring the customer to a nearby pharmacy, or by having the customer's doctor phone the prescription in somewhere else.

But Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said that sending patients to another pharmacy is not acceptable.

"They have to make the drug available at the pharmacy where the patient goes," Blumenthal said. "Patients can't be shuttled from one pharmacy to another."

The pharmacy - not the individual pharmacist - has an obligation to provide the medication "within a reasonable period of time - no later than an hour," Blumenthal said. That can be accomplished by having another pharmacist on call who could provide the medication, he said.

Steve Jensen, Wyman's spokesman, agreed. "If there's only one person on duty [at Wal-Mart], they failed that customer," he said. "We want assurance that they will have someone on duty to dispense the drug."
Good going, Connecticut. I can appreciate the fact that Wal-Mart allows employees to claim "conscientious objection" status, but they should also treat their paying customers with the same consideration. I don't know if Wal-Mart sells beer or wine (I won't shop at the chain), but I bet if a cashier refused to ring up a case of Killian the store would quickly find another employee to step in and complete the sale.

4 comments:

Ron Nasty said...

Now if they only could pass legislation to compel WalMart to pay living wages or offer decent benefits, or maybe even allow workers to unionize.....

Sam O said...

Kathy,

Your post is right on the money. The argument that a retail sales agent, or a pharmicist, should be able to exclude plan b based on beliefs is ridiculous. If applied to a broader interpretation of "beliefs", the original premise for exclusion becomes even more laughable.

thepoetryman said...

If they applied it across the board with the riligious angle we couldn't purchase condoms, birth control of any form, any medication, certain foods, magazines, liquor (unless its wine of course), or most anything at Wal-Mart, made in China or not! Sheesh...Now if you'll excuse me I have to go flagellate myself!

Rory Shock said...

I have a conscientious objection to walmart ... boycott the beast!