Madden/Vitale Measure To Protect Patients’ Rights Clears Assembly Health & Senior Services Committee

TRENTON – A measure sponsored by Senators Fred H. Madden and Joseph F. Vitale that would ban pharmacists from refusing to dispense medication solely on the basis of philosophical, moral or religious reasons was approved today by the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee.

“The purpose of this legislation is to help ensure that patients have access to quality healthcare and receive the medicine they need,” said Senator Madden, D-Camden and Gloucester, who sits on the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee. “People need affordability and access to the medicine that has been legally prescribed to them by their physicians.”

“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, D-Middlesex, the Chair of the Senate Health panel. “Pharmacists have a duty to objectively meet the medical needs of their patients, whatever their own personal beliefs or chosen faith. This bill ensures that they fufill prescriptions based on known medical outcomes, and not subjective personal beliefs.”

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 of the patient’s choice that carries the drug.

This measure was approved by the Senate on June 26. It now heads to the full Assembly for approval.

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