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August 08. 2012 12:29AM

Group claims distribution of contraceptives by Planned Parenthood violates state law

The distribution of prescription contraceptives by Planned Parenthood violates state law governing pharmacies, according to a pro-life organization that wants state regulators to deny the renewal of pharmaceutical licenses for six Planned Parenthood clinics later this month.

According to New Hampshire Right to Life, the clinics lost their ability to dispense birth control pills, RU-486, the morning-after pill and related prescriptions in June 2011, when the Executive Council voted to halt state participation in the funding of the clinics.

Planned Parenthood of Northern New England subsequently obtained funding directly from Washington for clinics in Manchester, Derry, Claremont, Exeter, West Lebanon and Keene. The change in the funding source, however, may have affected the ability of the clinics to dispense prescriptions.

State law requires a licensed pharmacist to dispense prescriptions, but it contains an exemption for family-planning clinics if they operate under contract with the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services.

In April, Right to Life filed a complaint with the Board of Pharmacy claiming that exemption no longer applies.

“I don’t think it’s too much to ask of Planned Parenthood to comply with the laws that apply to everyone else,” said Michael Tierney, a lawyer representing the Right to Life organization.

Planned Parenthood said the complaint by Right to Life represents an effort by a politically motivated group to interfere with women’s access to quality, affordable health care.

“We are confident that we are now, as we have been for over 20 years, in full compliance with state pharmacy statutes and rules. We are fully licensed to dispense medications at each of our six health centers,” reads a statement issued by Jennifer Frizzell, senior policy advisor to Planned Parenthood of Northern New England.

Tierney said the clinics sell or give away $4,000 in contraceptive and related pharmaceuticals a day. Frizzell said the number is incorrect; the $4,000 represents the federal funding that Planned Parenthood receives for all services for the six clinics, broken down to a daily basis.

For its part, the Board of Pharmacy said state law prevents it from disclosing whether an investigation of Planned Parenthood is underway.

After Planned Parenthood applied for a license renewal in June, Board of Pharmacy staff renewed the licenses until Sept. 1 and scheduled the matter for a full Board of Pharmacy hearing on Aug. 15.

Elyse Alkalay, counsel to the Board, said staff can only renew a license when there are no changes to it. But if there are changes in the circumstances from a previous license, it must go before the board.

This week, Tierney received copies of Planned Parenthood’s application for license renewal after filing a Right to Know request with the Pharmacy Board and sent it to a New Hampshire Union Leader reporter.

In its June application, Planned Parenthood said the clinics operate under a contract with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

But Planned Parenthood said the clinics also provide other services — vaccinations, preventive care and Medicaid-funded family planning — under contract with the state Department of Health and Human Services.

The application included only a copy of the agreement covering vaccines.

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Mark Hayward may be reached at mhayward@unionleader.com.


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