July 15, 2022

OCR guidance adds more confusion to pharmacists’ role, APhA issues response

Earlier this week, in response to the US Supreme Court’s recent decision in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released guidance for pharmacies that sets forth their obligations under federal civil rights laws, conflicting with some state laws, and raises concerns for our nation’s pharmacies and pharmacists.

The guidance also removes pharmacists’ ability to use their professional judgment to make “determinations regarding the suitability of a prescribed medication for a patient; or advising patients about medications and how to take them.”

On Wednesay, APhA issued a press release in rebuttal, which included the below comment from Ilisa BG Bernstein, PharmD, JD, FAPhA, interim executive vice president and CEO:

“While we understand the intent, without consultation with our nation’s pharmacists, OCR hastily issued this guidance which attacks and undermines the fundamental responsibilities and professional judgment of the pharmacist.” Bernstein continued, “It only adds more confusion to an already complicated legal and regulatory landscape post-Dobbs that pharmacists must navigate every day to help our patients.”

The APhA release then goes on to state that the implications of the guidance have the potential to cause widespread unintended consequences beyond reproductive health care services.

Click here to read OCR’s guidance document.

Pushing back against overreach like this is just another reason that attending CCH— and meeting directly with your member of Congress—matters.