Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Government Intrusion and Private Pharmacies

Does anyone else find this surprising? I had no idea that a state board has the ability to determine what medications a pharmacy is obligated to stock. Apparently in Massachusetts, all Wal-Mart drugstores have been ordered to stock emergency contraception pills (eg. Plan B). If I understand it correctly, there is a state law in Massachusetts requiring all pharmacies to carry "commonly prescribed medications". It was this law that was invoked by the Massachusetts Board of Pharmacy in setting the requirement.

According to this article, Wal-Mart "chooses not to carry many products for business reasons," but declined to elaborate.

And why should they? Whether their decision is based on moralistic views or simply their assessment of "what sells", whose business is it?

Let's assume that this particular application of the law is not in any way guided by politics and that the motivations of the regulators are as pure as the driven snow. Is the "morning after" pill truly a commonly prescribed medication to the extent of drugs such as Lipitor, Prozac or amoxacillin?

Probably not.

Might a government regulatory body be abusing its power to further hidden (or not so hidden) agendas? Probably yes -- especially since this decision came two weeks after Wal-Mart was sued by three women acting on behest of Planned Parenthood and NARAL to have this medication listed in this way. Suspecting a pro-Plan B constituency, perhaps politicians (maybe even two prominent Massachusetts senators) did provide some "input". Personally, I doubt that the manufacturers of Plavix would be able to generate similar political interest.

Don't get me wrong, I think Plan B is an important drug and I think women should have the right to decide whether or not to use it. I just don't want the government micromanaging private enterprise in this way.

CVS (the largest pharmacy chain in Massachusetts) and the other major chains in the area do carry the drug. Obviously these companies see a valuable market and have responded accordingly. Women most assuredly are not in any way being shut out.

I'd advocate a little less government intervention and a little more faith in the law of supply and demand.

3 Comments:

Blogger Fred said...

I'd go even further and say that, since it's a private business, it's for the business to decide what products they keep in stock. In this case, regulation be damned!

February 15, 2006 6:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pharmacies recieve payement from by insurance companies and from Medicare and Medicaid. They can't have it both ways:
If the government pays then, then the government makes the rules on how they run.

Just like planning a wedding (the person who pays for the flowers picks the flowers) or any other transaction in this country. The econmic certainty that is supply and demand is running the show!

February 18, 2006 9:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But all flower shops do not have to stock all flowers.
This is just the first step in mandating that all physicians provide abortions on demand. The pro-abortion agenda has placed the frog in the water, placed it on the stove and turned up the heat slightly by trying to mandate that pharmacies and pharmacists stock and dispense the morning after pill. The next step will to mandate that all OB-GYNs perform early stage abortions. Wake up people and jump out of the pot before the frog cooks.

February 22, 2006 5:36 AM  

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