CHICAGO – The Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) today voted to adopt Governor Rod R. Blagojevich’s proposed rule that ensures women know their rights to have access to contraceptives. The new rule requires Illinois pharmacies to post signs outlining consumers’ right to obtain contraceptives, and providing information on where to file a complaint with the state if a pharmacy violates that right. The rule was introduced by the Governor to prevent pharmacies from trying to get around an emergency rule he filed in April 2005 that requires them to fill all FDA-approved birth control prescriptions in a timely manner if the drugs are in stock and a legal prescription has been presented.
“Women will now be armed with the information they need to make sure that pharmacies are respecting their right to get the medication their doctors prescribe for them. Any pharmacist who might still think they can deny women access to birth control can expect to be reported to the state and penalized,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “As we said when we began this battle, filling prescriptions for birth control is about protecting a woman’s basic right to healthcare. Nothing more. Nothing less.”
The signs will remind customers what their rights are if the drugs requested are not in stock and provide them a web-site, www.contraceptives.illinois.gov
, and toll-free number, 800-280-4149, where they can file a complaint with the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR), which regulates pharmacies.
The Governor proposed the sign requirement earlier this year after a health care provider in the West Peoria area attempting to call in a prescription for emergency contraception was told that the drug was not in stock. The next day, the provider called back and spoke to the pharmacy manager who affirmed that they carried the drug, and had had it in stock the day of the original call. Under the Governor’s emergency rule, pharmacies that stock contraceptives are required to fill prescriptions without delay.
“Too many women have been forced to seek alternative sources for their birth control prescriptions. It’s important that pharmacy customers understand their rights and know that those rights will be protected,” said Dean Martinez, Secretary, IDFPR.
The pharmacy sign rule will take effect immediately upon being filed in the Illinois Register. Stores will be expected to have signs posted by early September. The signs will be required to be clearly printed on stock of at least 8 ½ X 11 inches and posted near the intake counter of each licensed Illinois pharmacy.
The sign says:
If this pharmacy dispenses prescription contraceptives, then you have the following rights under Illinois law:
The pharmacy must dispense your prescribed contraceptives without delay.
When your contraceptive is out of stock, you have the following options: the pharmacy must cooperate with your doctor to determine a suitable alternative, order the contraceptive, or transfer the prescription to another pharmacy of your choice.
You can instruct the pharmacy to return the prescription to you at any time.
If you have questions about your rights or wish to file a complaint, please call the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation at 800-280-4149 or visit www.contraceptives.illinois.gov.