Protection of Conscience Project
Protection of Conscience Project
Service, not Servitude

Service, not Servitude
US flag


House File 3032, and act relating to health (2005-2006)

This bill exempts objecting pharmacists from providing or referring for a drug to which they object for reasons of conscience, provided that the pharmacist has notified his employer in advance, and the employer can accommodate the pharmacist without undue hardship. The onus is placed on the employer, not the objecting pharmacist, to develop protocols to ensure patient access. The principal weakness in the bill is the fact that it does not provide for conscientious objection by a pharmacy owner. This, combined with the stated intent of the legislature, implies that it is public policy in the state of Minnesota that people who object to certain kinds of drugs for reasons of conscience shall not be permitted to own pharmacies in the state or otherwise engage in independent pharmacy practice. [Administrator]
Original Text
Section 1. [151.415] Prohibition Against Refusing to Dispense a Legend Drug or Device.
Subdivision 1. Intent.

It is the intent of the legislature that pharmacists dispense legend drugs and devices in a timely way or provide appropriate referrals for patients to obtain the necessary legend drugs and devices, despite the pharmacist's objection to dispensing the drugs or devices on ethical, moral, or religious grounds.

Subd. 2. Prohibition.

(a) No pharmacist shall obstruct a patient in obtaining a legend drug or device that has been legally prescribed or ordered for that patient. A violation of this section constitutes unprofessional conduct by the pharmacist and shall subject the pharmacist to disciplinary or administrative action by the Board of Pharmacy.

(b) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a pharmacist shall dispense drugs and devices, as described in section 151.01, subdivision 30, pursuant to a lawful order or prescription unless one of the following circumstances exists:

(1) based solely on the pharmacist's professional training and judgment dispensing pursuant to the order or the prescription is contrary to law, or the pharmacist determines that the prescribed drug or device would cause a harmful drug interaction or would otherwise adversely affect the patient's medical condition;

(2) the legend drug or device is not in stock. If an order or prescription cannot be dispensed because the drug or device is not in stock, the pharmacist shall take one of the following actions:

(i) immediately notify the patient and arrange for the drug or device to be delivered to the site or directly to the patient in a timely manner;

(ii) promptly transfer the prescription to another pharmacy known to stock the legend drug or device that is near enough to the site from which the prescription or order is transferred, to ensure the patient has timely access to the drug or device; or

(iii) return the prescription to the patient and refer the patient. The pharmacist shall make a reasonable effort to refer the patient to a pharmacy that stocks the legend drug or device that is near enough to the referring site to ensure that the patient has timely access to the drug or device; or

(3) the pharmacist refuses on ethical, moral, or religious grounds to dispense a drug or device pursuant to an order or prescription. A pharmacist may decline to dispense a prescription drug or device on this basis only if the employer has previously been notified by the pharmacist, in writing, of the drug or class of drugs to which the pharmacist objects, and the pharmacist's employer can, without creating undue hardship, provide a reasonable accommodation of the pharmacist's objection. The pharmacist's employer shall establish protocols that ensure that the patient has timely access to the prescribed drug or device despite the pharmacist's refusal to dispense the prescription or order.

(c) For the purposes of this section, "legend drug or device" has the same meaning as the definition in section 151.01, subdivision 17.

(d) This section imposes no duty on a pharmacist to dispense a drug or device pursuant to a prescription or order without payment for the drug or device, including payment directly by the patient or through a third-party payer accepted by the pharmacist or payment of any required co-payment by the patient.