Sunday, December 04, 2005

A PSA of sorts

You know what's good? What's good is when you have enough empenada dough left over for one more empenada, but not enough filling, so you roll up the dough with brown sugar and butter and nuts. That's good.

On to the serious stuff.

A poster over at LiveJournal has posted the experience of a friend of his whose prescription for Valtrex was refused, confiscated by the pharmacist, and not returned to her. I don't know whether or not it's a true story, and I don't think the LJ community would appreciate me linking to it, but you can check it out over at Pandagon.

If this should happen to you, here's what to do, in order:

1. Get the name of the pharmacist. The *full* name of the pharmacist. Make a note of it, along with the time that he or she was working, and the date.

2. Get the name of his or her superior, if he or she has one.

3. Get the name of the store manager for the pharmacy in question.

If anybody tries to block you at any point, make a fuss. Seriously. Refusing to fill a prescription might not be illegal in most states, but *confiscating* one is. Even if your prescription is returned to you, the pharmacist who refuses to fill it should face public scrutiny for his/her actions.

4. As soon as you get home, call the doc or clinic that prescribed the drug for you. If it's emergency contraception you need, go here to find a list of every-day oral contraceptives that can be used as EC, and their doses. Most doctor's offices will carry at least one of these brands in samples. Demand one.

The doc's office also needs to know the name of the pharmacy and pharmacist that refused your prescription, so that they can steer their patients away from them in the future.

5. Next, call the manager of the pharmacy/drugstore, or, if that person is not available, the consumer help-line for national chains. That can be found on the websites that the national chains run. Give the time, place, and date of the incident, as well as the names of the people involved. Be calm, but remind the person or people that you speak to that this is something that *will* be followed up on, and that *will* be acted upon.

Follow that up with both an email and a paper letter to the folks you've talked to. Keep copies of both. It's time-consuming, but worth it. If you get a response at any point, get names and phone numbers from everyone involved.

Most of the time, you'll get sufficient action from those first five steps to make you calmer, if not happier.

If you're still angry, or if the people you've dealt with up to this point have been a herd of bleating dickwads, do the following:

If there's a university within fifty miles of you, find out if they have a women's right's group. Or look online for the nearest chapter of the National Organization for Women or the ACLU. Call any or all of those folks and tell *them* (time, date, names, places) what happened to you and who you talked to. Ask them if they have any pointers about what you should do next. With luck, you'll get plenty of pointers, ammo, and hell--they might even stage a demonstration.

Then call your local paper. Even *my* local birdcage liner, as in-pocket as it is with the wingnuts, ran a front-page article on women being denied EC and OC at a local drugstore. Can't hurt to try.

All of this requires a lot of effort and that you become a spokesperson of sorts for Women For Whom The Condom Broke. That sucks; you ought to be able to get prescriptions for legal drugs filled with a minimum of hassle and wasted time.

Unfortunately, there is a small (but growing) cadre of people who work as pharmacists who believe that it is their right to make judgements about the people they serve, and judgements about whether or not those people ought to have one drug or another. The only way they'll ever do their jobs fairly--by either filling *every* prescription, or handing them off to someone who will--is if they're called out publicly on their bigotry.

Yes, it's bigotry to deny women oral contraceptives. It's bigotry to deny people with herpes drugs that reduce the frequency and severity of outbreaks on the grounds that they somehow deserve to suffer. You'll notice that all of these things have to do with *other people* making judgements on the validity of *your* sexuality, and that those judgements are necessarily on a case-by-case basis.

I was with a woman who was refused an EC scrip once. I wish I'd made more of a fuss over it; luckily, the wall-eyed bastard who refused the scrip later lost his job after doing the same thing to a rape victim.

Unless we want to have to go through some sort of pseudo-underground machinations *as women*, to get our health-care needs filled, we have to speak out.

Edited to add: Holy shit, lookee here. Seems some pharmacists are now refusing to dispense pain meds and psychotropics (like antidepressants). How far does this bullshit have to go before people start getting angry en masse?


HypnoKitten said...

Oh lordy - I love empanadas! There is a little Columbian place in town that makes them up fresh for you, and they're positively heaven. I had some once made by some Guamanian folks at a big festival. They were complately different (both the empanadas and the Guamanians!). The Guamanians said they made the dough with cream of wheat... it was so interesting, buttery, and meaty. MMmm!

ALSO: You're nominated for NurseBlogger of the month for November at Mediblogopathy. Might want to check that out. I already voted for 'ya. :)

Lioness said...

I wish they would I wish they'd get very very angry now, this is absolutely unacceptable! It makes my blood boil, can you imagine??

You're a public service, dahling. Good for you - and for us!

Jill said...

Is it my imagination or has that person's LiveJournal now disappeared?

Dr. Alice said...

That's unconscionable. Leaving aside the moral/ethical issues, I can come up with some mighty good objections to that kind of behavior based strictly on medical reasons. How do they know, for instance, that these antivirals are not being used for zoster (shingles)? Or that the birth control pill is not being used for acne or irregular menstrual cycles? (Granted, Plan B could not be mistaken for anything else but morning after protection, so my argument would not apply there.)

My point is, these guys are skating on some mighty thin ice. All they have to do is refuse medication to one zoster patient and they're screwed.

Judy said...

The LJ article has been removed. The other article referenced on Pandagon does NOT say anything about Valtrex. When I googled "Valtrex" and "Pharmacist" I came up with was blog comments like "What if....." No hard news.

You have a link? If so, I'd like to see it. I'm not saying it didn't happen, just that I need to see some evidence.

As for pharmacists whose religious convictions won't allow them to dispense emergency contraception, I think they can very easily find jobs where they won't be faced with that dilemma. There is a serious shortage of pharmacists in this country. It shouldn't be too hard. I would not assist with an abortion, or provide abortifacient drugs - but I choose to work in a Catholic hospital. It's just not an issue there. People know what they're getting when they walk in the door.

I have no problem with insisting that pharmacies post signs "We do not carry emergency contraception" if that's their position. I think it's a great idea. I even know quite a few people who would go out of their way to patronize those pharmacies. It might or might not be enough to keep the pharmacy in business in some parts of the country, but it there are quite a few Catholic hospitals in my area and they all seem to be thriving.

Jo said...

Judy, that's what I was wondering about when I didn't post that link.

Still, the idea of refusing drugs--even painkillers and psychotropics, or perhaps painkillers and psychotropics--is a scary subject.

Like you, I've chosen to work in a field where I won't have to assist with procedures I can't conscience. Maybe if more of us were careful that way, things would calm down a bit, eh?

HypnoKitten said...

I did a little searching also, and I came up with this op/ed in the Bangor news. This may be what the buzz is about. It's just talking about hypothetical situations, but it's an interesting read. I may put a link to it over at my place.


Anonymous said...

Like you, I sincerely wish more people would get angry about this. It makes my blood boil. I boycott WalMart because of their corporate policy of refusing to fill prescriptions for Plan B. To not fill prescriptions for pain medicine is unconscionable. Sure there are abusers out there...we've all met them, but is it really the pharmacists place to decide who gets pain medicine and who doesn't?

Anonymous said...

Wall-eyed bastard lost his job? Some of them should lose a license.

Anonymous said...

That is a great action list that everyone should print out and distribute at their local pharmacies. Well, maybe that would be taking it too far but I wonder if that's what's needed.

I'm really impressed by your thoughtfulness and have featured you at the blog:

Thanks and all the best!

Anonymous said...

Dude! "Smart, witty, and informative, Head Nurse is a blog that shows how brilliant nurses can be"! And this on TOP of "Charles Rennie Mackintosh?"

Anonymous said...

i'm a pharmacist and certainly don't subscribe to the same philosophy as the "wall-eyes". it's my job to dispense it safely and correctly, end of story.