Pharmacy Board leaves "Plan B" ruling in place

Dec 17, 2010

Washington's Board of Pharmacy has decided to not change a rule that prohibits pharmacies from refusing to dispense all legal drugs, including the morning-after contraceptive "Plan B."

On a 5-1 vote, the board voted Thursday to stop its process of drafting a rule change that would allow pharmacists to refer patients to another pharmacy for "time-sensitive" medication, including Plan B and hundreds of other drugs.

Individual pharmacists can still refuse to fill a prescription on moral grounds, but patients must receive their prescription onsite without delay.


An Olympia pharmacy and two pharmacists who oppose the Plan B drug have sued the state, but that lawsuit was delayed when the board decided over the summer to begin a new rule-making process.

The Seattle PI's Vanessa Ho has been following the legal controversy:

Court documents showed that the board - an independent body appointed by the governor - had been considering softening the rule, in order to allow a pharmacy to refuse medication if it referred patients to another pharmacy. That idea had garnered strong opposition from women's rights groups and Gov. Chris Gregoire, who said it would unfairly burden patients in remote areas.

The PI reports Planned Parenthood considers the ruling a victory.