A decision by the Supreme Court not to hear the Storman’s Pharmacy case means that states can require pharmacies to stock certain medications, and that those pharmacies cannot claim a religious objection to dispensing any of them.
We covered the case in detail back in January, but here’s the gist: Washington state requires pharmacies to stock the “morning-after” pill (Plan B and ella). Individual pharmacists could refuse to dispense them, but the pharmacy itself was required to carry and dispense them.
Owners of one pharmacy sued, saying that they had a religious objection to doing so. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that while individuals can refuse to dispense the drugs on religious or philosophical grounds, the pharmacy itself cannot.
GPhA, along with pharmacy associations from 32 other states (plus APhA and other national organizations) filed an amicus brief with the court in support of pharmacies’ right to refuse to stock and dispense medications the owners objected to selling.
Among other issues, we argued, smaller independent pharmacies may not be able to afford to have multiple pharmacists on duty to be able to dispense drugs if one pharmacist has an objection to a particular medication.
But the Supreme Court declined to hear the case, upholding the lower-court ruling. That does not mean that all pharmacies must stock all FDA-approved drugs (as the Washington law requires), but rather that states can require them to.
If you’re hearing shades of the Hobby Lobby decision, you’re not alone. This ruling (or, rather, lack of one) is essentially the opposite. Read the Atlantic’s story for a better explanation.