Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Birth Control Health Center

Font Size

Bill Says Pharmacies Must Fill Birth Control Rx

Proposal Would Fine Pharmacies That Deny Prescriptions for Birth Control
WebMD Health News

April 14, 2005 - Washington lawmakers introduced a bill Thursday making it illegal for pharmacies to refuse to fill prescriptions for birth control. The move adds to a growing controversy over the right of pharmacists to withhold oral contraceptives from patients with valid doctor's orders.

Under the bill, pharmacists who refuse to fill any prescription because of "personal beliefs" must ensure that another pharmacist dispenses the drugs. Pharmacies that do not stock a drug must order it immediately at the patient's request, it states.

The bill says pharmacies can be fined up to $5,000 a day or $500,000 in total for delays in providing drugs.

Doctor-Patient Relationship

While the bill applies to all prescriptions and does not specifically mention birth control, supporters made it clear that it was intended to head off a growing number of pharmacists who are refusing to fill prescriptions for birth control and emergency contraceptivesemergency contraceptives because of moral objections.

"Nobody has the right to come between a person and their doctor," said Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), the bill's chief senate sponsor. "We just want to have a bill that will say, 'pharmacists, do your job, period.'"

The bill comes a day after two Illinois pharmacists sued Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich over a new state rule compelling pharmacies that carry contraceptives to fill prescriptions for birth control.

The rule also forces pharmacies that do not stock the requested pills, including emergency contraception, to order the drugs or refer the patient to a nearby pharmacy. Blagojevich approved the rule April 1 after two Chicago pharmacists refused to fill prescriptions for emergency contraceptives.emergency contraceptives.

Similar refusals have occurred in at least seven states, including Texas, where in 2004 three Eckerd pharmacists in the town of Denton allegedly refused to fill an emergency contraceptive prescription for a rape victim.

"We have to make sure that women do not have to fight through the conscience of their pharmacist in order to get legal prescription drugs," said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), a House sponsor of the bill.

The bill does not require pharmacies to stock any drug but only compels them to order it for patients with a valid doctor's prescription, aides said.

Today on WebMD

Here's what to expect.
man opening condom wrapper
Do you know the right way to use them?
birth control pills
Here's what to do next.
doctor and patient
His and her options.
Concerned teenage girl
hospital gown
Birth Control Pills Weight Gain
Ortho Evra Birth Control Patch
contraceptive pills
Young couple looking at each other, serious
woman reading pregnancy test result