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Controversial pharmacy rule may be revised

A Washington state board might revise the proposed rule that allows pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions that conflict with their beliefs.

The state Board of Pharmacy agreed Thursday to reconsider the language in a controversial rule it tentatively approved in June, which allows a pharmacist who personally opposes the morning-after birth control pill to refuse to fill the prescription and refer the patient elsewhere. The board ordered staff not to file draft language that is necessary to complete the process for the rule to take effect.

“The bottom line is, what they want to do is discuss the draft (language) at the August meeting,” Steve Saxe, executive director of the state Pharmacy Board, said Thursday.

The board received 2,465 comments from the public on the proposed rule, and all but 33 were opposed to it, he said.

Gov. Chris Gregoire is opposed to the rule and is working with “stakeholders” – including pharmacists, women’s groups and other health care professionals – to come up with a new version for the August meeting. “It’s still in the works,” an aide said when asked how it might differ from the rule proposed in June.

The board’s meeting on Aug. 31 will be held at Kent, but the location has not been chosen. Its regular meeting place isn’t large enough to hold the anticipated crowd, Saxe said.

Jet Tilley, director of public policy for Planned Parenthood of the Inland Northwest, said the board’s announcement shows it “has begun listening to the voices of Washington’s citizens.”