AI: Bad Policy


A recent study found that 1 in 5 pharmacies restrict teens' access to emergency contraception (like Plan B or Next Choice). Some teenagers and physicians in the study were told they couldn't buy EC over the counter at all, even though it is available over the counter to anyone age 17 or older. The study authors noted that they don't know whether teenagers were intentionally misled, or the pharmacy workers didn't know the law.

I work in a pharmacy myself, and I find the possibility that pharmacists don't know the law about EC to be unlikely, but that's my totally unscientific opinion. It seems more likely that it is an issue of individual pharmacies' policies. I'm not an expert in the law, but I don't think it's illegal to refuse access to EC based on age, so having a policy like that in place is probably legal, even if it's wrong.

And sadly, policies that suck are all over the place. My own pharmacy manager has a policy in place that restricts access to clean syringes and needles to people without prescriptions, even though it's perfectly legal to sell them to anyone. I vehemently disagree with this policy, but I'm not in a position to do anything about it, mostly because I need my job if I want to continue to eat.

So what can we do? Do we continue to follow the rules we disagree with? Educate people about the public health impacts of their stupid policies? Maybe something way more clever that I hadn't even thought of?

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  1. I would probably handle a situation like that by trying to find another way to help people find what they need in a different way.  For example, in the situation you are talking about I would direct people to a clean needle exchange program or another pharmacy when that situation comes up.  I'd probably also donate to the clean needle exchange program, probably in my boss' name.

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