Washington State “Pharmacist Responsibilities” Proposed Rule Language 

The following is taken from the Aug 31, 2006 minutes of the WA state board of pharmacy meeting. Please note the lone board member voting and defending pharmacists' rights of conscience on this matter was Donna Dockter. The WA board of pharmacy met 27 October to ratify this decision and allow for a comment period ending 11 December 2006.

Please review this rule which is anti-pharmacist, and violates religious and civil rights of pharmacists who do not wish to be participants in dispensing or counseling patients for drugs that are patently abortifacient, euthanizing or in any other way harmful and dangerous to patients. This rule mandates that pharmacists have a duty to violate their own sincerely held beliefs and that the must assist in killing patients, in direct violation of all norms of morality, ethics, decency and the Hippocratic Oath.

Ironically, the WA State Dept of Health sports the following motto, contradicted by this proposed rule: "The Department of Health works to protect and improve the health of the people of Washington State." As if!

You can review the document and make your comments by clicking the link:


Here are the pertinent notes from the board minutes:

The Board discussed the proposed language regarding a pharmacist's responsibilities when presented with a lawful prescription and the next steps.  No public comments were accepted during this agenda item.   

Chair Asaad Awan invited Christine Hulet, the Governor's Health Policy Advisor and Marty Brown, the Governor's Legislative Director to update the Board on the stakeholder work in which they facilitated and present alternative rule language.  

Ms. Hulet thanked the Board for allowing them to speak on behalf of Governor Gregoire.  Marty Brown and Ms. Hulet acknowledged the Boards efforts and the volume of constituent and media interest in the rule.  Ms. Hulet briefly discussed the negotiations with Dona Dockter; Don Downing, University of Washington School of Pharmacy; representatives from Planned Parenthood, Washington State Pharmacy Association, the Northwest Women's Law Center, the Department of Health and other resulted in language that the Governor feels provided a balance between patient access and it recognizes the important role of pharmacists in our health care system and patient safety.  

Christina Hulet read into record a letter from the Governor issued to the Board recommending the approval of the alternative rule language.  A copy of the alternative rule language was distributed to members of the Board and highlighted by Ms. Hulet.   

MOTION: Susan Teil-Boyer moved to reconsider the proposed rule language accepted at the June 1 meeting. Rebecca Hill second. MOTION CARRIED 7-0.

The Board was instructed by Chair Awan to have a brief discussion on the rule language provided by the office of Governor Gregoire. 

Donna Dockter shared her concerns about the proposed language. She stated that the language does not clearly state the Board's expectation of a pharmacist when they do not dispense a legal prescription.  Ms. Dockter indicated that the list of exceptions for when a pharmacist would not dispense is not inclusive, which she acknowledged that it would not be possible given the many aspects of the practice of pharmacy.  Donna Dockter stated that exception (1)(c) did not adequately address the compounding of drugs that does not require specialized equipment or expertise but may not be done for sound business reasons or special services such as filling insulin syringes.   

Donna Dockter requested clarification on the second sentence of the proposed rule which begins "Pharmacies have a duty to dispense…" Pharmacists dispense prescriptions not pharmacies.  She asked if approved as written who will be disciplined.  

Gary Harris stated that he supports the Governor's proposed language. In response to the many examples given by Ms. Dockter, Mr. Harris felt that the Board would not pursue disciplinary action against the pharmacist.  

Susan Teil-Boyer suggested changing the word "Pharmacies" to "Pharmacists" in the second sentence of the rule.  Ms. Teil-Boyer acknowledged that this has been the toughest issue that the Board has dealt with in her seven-years of service on the Board.  She was in agreement with several of the issues presented by Ms. Dockter; however, to move forward she stated she would support the alternative rule language.  

MOTION: George Roe moved to approve the alternative rule language changing "Pharmacies" to "Pharmacists" in the second sentence of the rule.  Rebecca Hille second.  MOTION CARRIED 6-1 , Donna Dockter opposed. 

Steven Saxe, DOH Director of Facilities and Services Licensing (former Board of Pharmacy Executive Director) briefed the Board on the next steps in the rules process.