July 5, 2005

Survey finds docs back ‘morning after’ pill

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - A majority of physicians think
that pharmacists should have the authority to dispense
emergency contraception, and that pharmacists should be
required to fill prescriptions for contraception despite their
religious objections, survey findings show.

The New Jersey-based marketing and communications research
company HCD Research surveyed a nationally representative
sample of 824 physicians, and found that 65 percent believe
that pharmacists should have the authority to dispense
emergency contraception.

A further 13 percent thought that pharmacists should have
such authority if the customer were at least 18 years old.

Recently, there have been cases of pharmacists refusing to
dispense 'morning after' contraception on conscientious ground.
The American Pharmacists Association's policy states that
druggists can refuse to fill prescriptions if they have
religious objections, HCD's Glenn R. Kessler told Reuters
Health. The policy also requires that they make arrangements
for the patient to get their prescription filled.

Several states have proposed laws that would protect
pharmacists who refuse to fill prescriptions. However, most of
the physicians surveyed (78 percent) thought that state laws
should require pharmacists to fill prescriptions so long as
they are for legal drugs prescribed by doctors.

About 26 percent of surveyed doctor were Jewish, 25 percent
were Protestants, 20 percent were Catholics, 11 percent
identified no organized religion, 4 percent were atheists, 3
percent were orthodox Christians, 3 percent were Hindus and
just over 1 percent were Muslims or Buddhists.

When the statistics were broken down by religion, 90
percent of Jewish doctors, 70 percent of Roman Catholics, 68
percent of Protestant doctors and even 57 percent of orthodox
Christians felt that pharmacists should be required to fill
prescriptions, despite their religious objections.

Overall, 52 percent of those describing themselves as
conservative advocated this policy, compared with 80 percent of
moderates and 93 percent of liberals.