Madden/Vitale Bill To Protect Patients’ Rights Is Now Law

Senator Fred H. Madden, D-Gloucester and Camden, speaks during a Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee hearing.

Bill Would Prevent Pharmacies from Refusing to Dispense Medication for Moral Reasons

TRENTON -A measure sponsored by Senators Fred H. Madden and Joseph F. Vitale which prohibits pharmacies from refusing to dispense medication solely on the basis of the philosophical, moral or religious beliefs held by their employees has been signed into law by Governor Jon Corzine.

“This new law will work to ensure equal access to quality health care,” said Senator Madden, D-Camden and Gloucester. “A patient seeking a prescription that has been legally prescribed by a licensed medical professional should be given their medication without undue delay or compromise. People choosing to work in the medical field must be able to work together toward one common goal – to help protect the health and well-being of patients.”

“Discussions of morals and matters of conscience are admirable, but should not come into play when subjective beliefs conflict with objective medical decisions,” said Senator Joseph F. Vitale, Chairman of the Senate Health panel. “Pharmacies have a duty to objectively meet the medical needs of their patients, whatever their own personal beliefs or chosen faith. This new law ensures that they fulfill prescriptions based on known medical outcomes, and not subjective personal beliefs.”

The new law, S-1195, requires 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 law requires pharmacies to locate another pharmacy near the patient that carries the drug.

This law received final legislative approval from the Senate on June 26.

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