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RRP Defends A Minor’s Right To Confidential Access To Birth Control

The RRP wrote to Duane Reade headquarters concerning a pharmacist’s refusal to fill a birth control prescription. The RRP learned of the incident in July from Dr. Neal Hoffman, an adolescent medicine specialist, who reported that one of his teenage patients had been unable to obtain birth control at a Duane Reade pharmacy. Although the pharmacist accepted the prescription that Dr. Hoffman had written, the pharmacist refused to dispense birth control to the teenager, claiming that New York State law and Duane Reade policy prohibited her from dispensing medication to a minor without a parent present.

The RRP’s letter to a Duane Reade official described the incident; explained that the pharmacist’s actions actually run counter to New York State law, which requires the filling of valid prescriptions, and to federal constitutional law, which enables teens to obtain contraception without parental consent; and demanded that Duane Reade immediately undertake action to prevent such unlawful acts against other patients.

Ten days later, the Duane Reade official reported that he spoke with the pharmacist involved in this incident and explained to the pharmacist that State law and Duane Reade policy require her to fill valid birth control prescriptions, including those for minors. He also stated to the RRP that it is his understanding that this pharmacist will from now on fill and dispense birth control prescriptions, even to minor patients. Finally, he agreed to issue a clarification of the law in some sort of publication to pharmacists, such as a monthly newsletter. The RRP continues to monitor the situation.

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