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September 20. 2012 1:12AM

Pharmacy board renews Planned Parenthood license

CONCORD — Over the objections of an pro-life group, the New Hampshire Board of Pharmacy Wednesday unanimously agreed to renew Planned Parenthood of Northern New England’s pharmaceutical license.

Last month the board decided not to grant the license and requested Planned Parenthood provide additional information.

New Hampshire Right-to-Life pushed the regulatory board to deny Planned Parenthood its licenses, claiming the clinics lost their ability to dispense birth control pills, RU-486 and other related prescriptions in June 2011 when the Executive Council killed a contract with the organization to provide women’s health and family planning services at clinics around the state.

Subsequently, the federal government contracted directly with Planned Parenthood to provide the services at clinics in Manchester, Derry, Claremont, Exeter, Lebanon and Keene, bypassing the council.

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. Planned Parenthood’s contract is with the federal Health and Human Services agency.

In April, NH Right-to-Life filed a complaint with the Board of Pharmacy claiming that exemption no longer applies, but the board disagreed and issued the license yesterday citing a confidential compliance memo.

“After a comprehensive license renewal process, the Board of Pharmacy acted unanimously to continue the dispensing authority we have had at Planned Parenthood of Northern New England for more than 20 years,” said Jennifer Frizzell, senior policy adviser.

The organization provides health care services to more than 16,000 women, men and teens in New Hampshire each year.

NH Right to Life attorney Michael Tierney of Waldeigh Starr & Peters, PLLC of Manchester, said he requested a copy of the confidential memo.

He noted the board’s approval came in about 90 seconds without discussion except to say the decision was based on the memo.

While people may hold widely divergent, strongly held view on abortion, “I think we can all agree how government operates should be open to the public,” he said.

Tierney sent a letter to the board Monday asking members to deny Planned Parenthood’s application and asking for the drug dispensing protocols the organization was supposed to file to complete its application.

“I was informed Planned Parenthood did not submit the protocols,” Tierney said.

Frizzell said for the past 18 months there have been efforts by politically-motivated groups in conjunction with out-of-state special interests to restrict access to birth control, cancer screenings, breast exams and other preventive health services at Planned Parenthood health centers in New Hampshire.

The groups have lobbied the Executive Council, the Legislature and the pharmacy board, she noted.

Planned Parenthood had been dispensing contraceptives and other medications under an administrative license from the board good until Nov 1.

Tierney asked the board to revoke the license, but the board declined to do that.

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Garry Rayno may be reached at grayno@unionleader.com.


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