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Local expert's take on Walgreen's policy when it comes to filling prescriptions

David Mittleman

LANSING, Mich. (WILX) — According to Walgreen’s company policy, pharmacists can “step away” from filling a prescription if they have a moral objection, but they are supposed to find someone else who can.

Some think that it’s not their job to be the judge.

“I don’t think its the pharmacist’s determination to make a ruling one way or another whether what a patient does is appropriate,” David Mittleman said.

David Mittleman is a lawyer who is also a former pharmacist. He says that although the pharmacist legally had the right to refuse the prescription, morally, it was wrong.

“It’s a slippery slope, that’s why I believe and appropriately written prescription by a certified physician handed to a pharmacist should be filled,” he said.

The Michigan Pharmacists Association has a similar policy to Walgreens: if the specific pharmacist has a strong moral problem with the RX, they can refuse to do it–but it is also their responsibility to find someone else who can.

“I think that pharmacists are just like any other health professional, they have their own moral and ethical beliefs. I do believe that if they are a health professional they have some responsibility to the patient,” CEO Larry Wagenknecht said.

But when the issue is medical instead of moral, both men agree pharmacists should get involved. They say a pharmacist should talk with the patient’s doctor if they believe a drug has been overprescribed or could be abused.

“It really gets down to communication between the patient and the pharmacist, and also the pharmacist and the prescriber, to make sure the pharmacist isn’t missing something or they know something the prescriber doesn’t,” Wagenknecht said.

“There’s an obligation on the pharmacist to not just standby be a robot and do everything written on a piece of paper,” Mittleman said.

Arizona is one of the six states in the US where a pharmacist can refuse emergency contraception drugs. Michigan has no such policy.

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