Archive for March 12th, 2008

by Jay Stevens

Way back in ancient times – December – there was quite a fuss made about a Broadus pharmacist who refused to fill prescriptions for contraceptives because of religious beliefs. Apparently a number of complaints were filed against the pharmacist, and yesterday the Gazette reported that all the complaints were dropped by the Montana Board of Pharmacy.

So it is now apparently legal for pharmacists to choose which prescription drugs they dispense.

Two comments in the Gazette story, I thought, effectively summed up the two sides of this issue. First, Libertarian:

This issue comes down to the right of the property owner. Lane has every right to refuse service if he owns the business. People in Missoula don’t believe in property rights as Libertarians do. Property rights include all sorts of things, including the right to let people smoke on private property open to the public.

LibertyGirl:

… the reality is that people across Montana should be concerned that a state-licensed pharmacist can deny services based on his personal beliefs. Pharmacists are critical to the delivery of healthcare in our rural state. Not having any sort of guidance or standards for that licensure means that patients, who have legal prescriptions, can be denied care because the pharmacist disagrees based on his personal religious beliefs. John Lane took an oath to be a pharmacist, not a priest. If he can no longer fulfill the obligations of his chosen profession – for all of his clients – then he should consider a new line of work.

While I realize matching the rhetorical skills of “Libertarian” against “Liberty Girl’s” is an unfair fight, I think the core of the debate here is clear: at what point can the state dictate how a property owner uses her property? In this case, I think Liberty Girl is clearly in the right. A pharmacist is providing a licensed service and must adhere to the ethics and rules of his profession. And no one – especially a pharmacist — should insert their personal morality between a doctor and her patient. Doing so might be injurious to a patient’s health and well being.

It seems to me, though, that the actual support of Lane’s decision has less to do with property rights than it does with general support for his “morality,” such as it is. If, for example, Lane were a Christian Scientist and dispensing prescription medicine based on that sect’s attitude towards healing, there’s no debate.

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by jhwygirl

Why is the State of Montana interfering with Walmart’s pricing structure on Family Planning drugs?

Very sick and with my normal local pharmacy closed, I headed to Walmart for the $10/pill antibiotics that the doctor prescribed for me. While waiting for the prescription to be filled, I picked up a copy of the 400 or so prescription drugs that Walmart now fills for $4.

To be completely fair, a few of them are priced “slightly higher due to state laws.”

Page 4 of the list of drugs that sell for 4 bucks is a section, with three different products, titled “Family Planning.”

These family planning drugs are 9 bucks.

Still fair – Walmart didn’t have to decide to sell its 4 pages of drugs for 4 bucks, let alone 9 bucks. Walmart should be able to set the prices it wishes to for its products, no?

Apparently not in Montana.

The three products – Clomiphene, Sprintec and Tri-Sprintec – can not be sold in Montana for the 9 bucks that Walmart sells them for in other states “due to state law.”

Clomiphene is a fertility drug, the other two birth control.

What state law prohibits this?

More importantly, what in state law allows Montana to tell Walmart to sell a product to Montana consumers at a higher price than Walmart wants to sell it for?

Rebecca had a piece up a while back about the pharmacist in Broadus that decided his religion didn’t allow him to dispense the federally regulated, state licensed prescription drug. Wonder what the “free market” advocates in that post have to say about this?




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