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California

Guaranteed Access to Prescriptions

California law guarantees that women's birth-control prescriptions will be filled.  Pharmacists are prohibited from obstructing a patient's access to a legally prescribed medication or device, except under limited circumstances, such as if dispensing the medication is a violation of law or would be harmful to the patient.  

If the prescribed medication is not in stock, the pharmacist must: (1) immediately notify the patient and arrange for the medication or device to be delivered to the pharmacy or directly to the patient in a timely manner; (2) promptly transfer the prescription to a nearby pharmacy known to stock the medication or device; or (3) return the prescription to the patient and refer the patient to a nearby pharmacy.

A pharmacist may refuse to dispense a medication or device based on ethical, moral, or religious grounds but only if the pharmacist has previously notified his or her employer in writing of the objection, and the employer can accommodate the objection without undue hardship.  Under those circumstances, employers are required to establish protocols that guarantee that a patient has timely access to the prescribed medication or device, notwithstanding the pharmacist's objection.

All pharmacies are required to display prominently a notice for women and other consumers that explains their rights to access to prescription medications and devices. A written receipt that includes the required information may be provided to consumers as an alternative to posting the notice in the pharmacy.  

The board of pharmacy and its executive officer are allowed to issue citations and letters of admonishments for violations of the law.  

Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code §§ 733, 4122, 4314, 4315 (Enacted 2005; Last Amended 2007).


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