MPA | Pharmacy News

New federal guidance on their obligations when it comes to dispensing reproductive health medications drugs puts pharmacists in a more precarious position instead of clarifying the issue—which was the stated intent of the Biden Administration—according to key pharmacy groups.

The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) asserted that pharmacists who are trying to abide by state laws on abortion could be caught in the middle by the guidance issued by the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Civil Rights (OCR).

"States have provided very little clarity on how pharmacists should proceed in light of conflicting state and federal laws and regulations. It is highly unfair for state and federal governments to threaten aggressive action against pharmacists who are just trying to serve their patients within new legal boundaries that are still taking shape," stated NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey, RPh, MBA.

According to the NCPA's interpretation, the guidance warns pharmacists who reportedly refuse to dispense certain medicines used to terminate a pregnancy but which are also used to treat other conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, that they could be in violation of the federal civil rights laws.

The organization responded that the practice of pharmacy is regulated by the states, and few of those have provided direction on when pharmacists should or should not dispense reproductive drugs.

"States must issue clear guidance, and that needs to be an urgent priority," Dr. Hoey stated. "Pharmacists are trying to take care of their patients and now they shouldn't be in the crossfire."

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