Madden/Vitale Bill To Protect Patients’ Rights Clears Senate

Bill Would Prevent Pharmacists From Refusing to Dispense Medication For Moral Reasons

TRENTON – A measure sponsored by Senators Fred H. Madden and Joseph F. Vitale that would prohibit pharmacists from refusing to dispense medication solely on the basis of philosophical, moral or religious reasons was approved today in the Senate by a vote of 31-6.

“The sole purpose of this legislation is to ensure quality access to health care,” said Senator Madden, D-Camden and Gloucester, who sits on the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee. “A patient seeking a prescription that has been legally prescribed by a licensed medical professional should be provided their medication without undue delay or compromise. It is my hope that with this bill’s passage, the citizens of New Jersey will be able to go into their local pharmacy and have their prescriptions filled with no problems. Pharmacies should also recognize the importance of this legislation and its positive effect on our health care network.”

“The Hippocratic Oath doesn’t end at the doctor’s doorstep, and the principles of objective health care should be followed through in every aspect of the health system,” said Senator Vitale, D-Middlesex, the Chair of the Senate Health panel. ” While I commend any person for having strong moral, philosophical or religious convictions, those convictions cannot get in the way of a pharmacist’s duty to operate objectively to fulfill a patient’s prescription. Morals, religion and philosophy should be debated, but not in the pharmacy.”

The Senators’ measure, S-1195, would require pharmacies to dispense prescribed medications to patients, regardless of any religious or philosophical concerns held by employees. In cases where the pharmacy does not have a prescribed medication in stock, the bill would require pharmacies to locate a pharmacy near the patient that carries the drug.

This measure was approved by the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens committee on May 11. It now heads to the Assembly for consideration.

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