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September Legislative Update: HB 281/SB 190: Pregnancy Prevention & Sexual Assault

Kelly Vyzral, Director of Government Affairs

State Legislation

HB 281/SB 190:  Pregnancy Prevention and Sexual Assault

Introduced by Rep. Antonio and Sen. Cafaro, these two companion bills address assistance for pregnancy prevention and hospital services for victims of sexual assault.  In regards to pharmacy, this legislation would require a pharmacy that stocks contraceptives to ensure that the contraceptives are made available without delay when requested by a customer.

If the contraceptive is not in stock and the pharmacy in the normal course of business stocks contraception, the pharmacy must offer the customer the following options.

(1) If the customer prefers to obtain the contraceptive through a referral or transfer, the pharmacy must locate a pharmacy of the customer’s choice or the closest pharmacy confirmed to have the contraceptive in stock, and refer the customer or transfer the prescription to that pharmacy.

(2) If the customer prefers to order the contraceptive through the pharmacy, the pharmacy must obtain the contraceptive under the pharmacy’s standard procedure for expedited ordering of drug products and notify the customer when the contraceptive arrives.

Exceptions.  The bill allows a pharmacy to refuse to provide a contraceptive to a customer in any of the following circumstances:

(1) if it is unlawful to dispense the contraceptive to the customer without a valid, lawful prescription and no such prescription is presented;
(2) if the customer is unable to pay for the contraceptive;
(3) if the pharmacy employee refuses to provide the contraceptive on the basis of “professional judgment,” which the bill defines as the use of professional knowledge and skills to form a clinical judgment in accordance with the prevailing medical standards.

Penalties.  The bill permits a person to file a complaint with the State Board of Pharmacy. If the Board determines a violation occurred, it must impose a fine of not more than $5,000 for each violation. The bill also permits the Board to use its existing authority to take disciplinary actions against the individual’s license to practice pharmacy.

Attorney General Actions.  The Attorney General is authorized by the bill to commence a civil action to force compliance. In such action, the court is permitted to award compensatory damages and punitive damages not exceeding $5,000 for each violation.

As you can see, there is quite a lot of work to be done on this bill.  While OPA feels that it is important that patients have access to legally prescribed medications, we feel that this bill undermines the professional and business judgment of the pharmacist. 

If you have any questions or comments about the issues mentioned in this article, please contact Kelly Vyzral, Director of Government Affairs, at 614.389.3236 or kvyzral@ohiopharmacists.org.

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