The state rule barring pharmacies from refusing to dispense medication will stand.
The rule, controversial mainly because of its implications for the Plan B morning-after contraception drug, will remain unchanged after the state Board of Pharmacy voted 5-1 today to reverse itself and drop its rulemaking process.
Votes by a member who was absent for the last vote, Kim Ekker, and the chairman who opposed a change but thought he couldn’t vote last time, Gary Harris, may have been the key. Additionally, a former advocate of a change, Al Linggi, switched his vote and added to the margin.
The last vote in November continued a rulemaking process the board started in June that could have paved the way for allowing pharmacies to refer patients to other stores.
That decision had halted a lawsuit over the rule by the owners of Ralph’s Thriftway in Olympia, who out of moral opposition don’t stock Plan B. Now the lawsuit presumably will continue.
The board said in a news release it reversed course after reviewing thousands of public comments that were overwhelmingly opposed to a change.
UPDATED to clarify that pharmacies, not individual pharmacists, are restricted by the rule.