A white male pharmacist wearing a face mask talks to a white woman in a face mask about a medication

Missouri Pharmacists Can’t Even Ask Questions About Prescriptions for Unproven COVID Meds, Can Still Refuse Birth Control

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A bill has passed the Missouri state legislature barring pharmacists from refusing to fill prescriptions or unproven and potentially dangerous COVID-19 treatments, or even contacting the prescribing physician or the patient to ask questions about the medication. The ban is not technically in effect yet, but it now heads to the governor’s desk for his signature and since Mike Parson has never met an anti-COVID safety bill he doesn’t love, that seems likely.

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Buried deep in a bill that allows physical therapy students to apply for jobs ahead of graduation is this provision:

A pharmacist shall not contact the prescribing physician or the patient to dispute the efficacy of ivermectin tablets or hydroxychloroquine sulfate tablets for human use unless the physician or patient inquires of the pharmacist about the efficacy of ivermectin tablets or hydroxychloroquine sulfate tablets.

On the one hand, if a doctor prescribed medication for a patient and the two discussed what that medication does and does not do and all the safety risks involved, fine. I think that person should be able to get that medication. On the other hand, I’ve personally benefited from pharmacists who have caught doctors’ mistakes or explained things in ways doctors haven’t. There are doctors out there prescribing these drugs even though they’ve been shown to be useless against COVID-19 and a pharmacist is the last line of defense in just being able to ask: “You sure about this?”

What makes all of this even worse is that while soon Missouri pharmacists will no longer be allowed to even ask patients if they’re aware that the drugs they’re taking are in no way proven to be effective in treating COVID-19, pharmacists in the state and plenty of others are 100% allowed to refuse to fill prescriptions for birth control or requests for Plan B emergency contraception if those items offend their “religious beliefs or moral convictions.”

What a shamefully cruel, backward country this can be.

(image: Nastasic/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.