SPRINGFIELD – Legislators serving on the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) today voted to make permanent Governor Rod R Blagojevich’s emergency rule that ensures pharmacies in Illinois fill women’s prescriptions for contraceptives without delay or hassle. The rule requires licensed pharmacies that dispense FDA-approved contraceptives to fill all birth control prescriptions in the same timely manner they would other prescriptions.
“Women can feel confident from here on out, that when they have a signed prescription from their doctor for birth control and go to a pharmacy that sells birth control – they’ll get their medication quickly without questions or lectures. When we began this battle, we said that filling prescriptions for birth control is about protecting a woman’s right to have access to medicine her doctor says she needs. Nothing more. Nothing less,” said Gov. Blagojevich.
Gov. Blagojevich submitted an emergency rule on April 1, 2005 clarifying the responsibilities of licensed retail pharmacies to fill prescriptions for all FDA approved contraceptives if the drug store dispenses birth control medications. That rule remained in effect in an emergency capacity until today, when JCAR voted to allow the Governor’s rule to become permanent.
“Illinois women can breathe easier, knowing that they have a right to go into a drug store anywhere in the state and get their birth control prescriptions filled,” said Rachel Laser from the National Women's Law Center. “I’m hopeful that women across the country and their supporters in state legislatures and the U.S. Congress will follow the example set by Gov. Blagojevich to protect the health and dignity of women.”
The rule clearly defines the responsibilities of licensed retail pharmacies in Illinois to fill all FDA approved birth control prescriptions if the drugs are in stock and a legal prescription has been presented. If the drugs requested are not in stock, the pharmacy must do one of the following: provide a medically acceptable alternative drug, or, at the request of the patient, order the drug from their supplier, transfer the prescription to a different drug store or return the prescription to the patient.
“When an individual goes into any pharmacy they should feel confident that contraceptive services are readily available and their prescriptions are accepted and filled. This permanent rule with better ensure that Illinois citizens are not turned away or challenged when requesting the services they deserve" said Linda D. Hallman, Executive Director of the American Women's Medical Association in Washington,D.C.
In other efforts to make sure that safe prescription contraceptives are available and affordable to all Illinois women, Gov. Blagojevich authorized changes in I-Save Rx program last month to include seven of the most popular contraceptive prescription drugs to the prescription drug importation program launched in October of 2004.
Prescription contraceptives, such as Ortho-Evra 20-150, Ortho Novum 7/7/7, Ortho-Cyclen, Ortho Tri-Cyclen, Alesse, Micronor and Triphasil are available from state-inspected suppliers in Canada, Ireland and the United Kingdom through I-Save Rx with savings of up to 79% for a three-month supply. Additional information is available through the I-Save Rx website: www.I-SaveRx.net
, or the toll-free number 1-866-I-SAVE33.
The text of the permanent rule follows:
j) Duty of Division I Pharmacy to Dispense Contraceptives
1) Upon receipt of a valid, lawful prescription for a contraceptive, a pharmacy must dispense the contraceptive, or a suitable alternative permitted by the prescriber, to the patient or the patient’s agent without delay, consistent with the normal timeframe for filling any other prescription. If the contraceptive, or a suitable alternative, is not in stock, the pharmacy must obtain the contraceptive under the pharmacy's standard procedures for ordering contraceptive drugs not in stock, including the procedures of any entity that is affiliated with, owns, or franchises the pharmacy. However, if the patient prefers, the prescription must be transferred to a local pharmacy of the patient’s choice under the pharmacy’s standard procedures for transferring prescriptions for contraceptive drugs, including the procedures of any entity that is affiliated with, owns, or franchises the pharmacy. Under any circumstances an unfilled prescription for contraceptive drugs must be returned to the patient if the patient so directs.
2) For the purposes of this subsection (j), the term “contraceptive” shall refer to all FDA-approved drugs or devices that prevent pregnancy.
3) Nothing in this subsection (j) shall interfere with a pharmacist’s screening for potential drug therapy problems due to therapeutic duplication, drug-disease contraindications, drug-drug interactions (including serious interactions with nonprescription or over-the-counter drugs), drug-food interactions, incorrect drug dosage or duration of drug treatment, drug-allergy interactions, or clinical abuse or misuse, pursuant to 225 ILCS 85/3(q).
An explanation of the rule and its enforcement is posted on the IDFPR website at: http://www.idfpr.com/emergencyruleguidance.asp.