Saturday, June 02, 2007

Birth control denied to Montana woman... by a Canadian company

I could have taken Jessica's posting as another example of some Christian fundamentalist wacko stepping outside the bounds of reality and foisting his/her insane superstition on the public. This time it was in Great Falls, Montana where the owners of a Snyders drugstore refused to fill the prescription of a 49-year-old woman for oral contraceptives. Instead of her pills, (which she uses for medical reasons other than birth-control, and that doesn't matter), she got a note:
When she went to the pharmacy counter, she received a slip of paper signed by the pharmacy owners (Stuart Anderson, Kurt Depner and Kori Depner) stating that the pharmacy would no longer fill birth control prescriptions.

Adding insult to injury, the note goes onto say that they pharmacy will "continue to serve your prescription needs with utmost care and trust." The customer, who happens to be a 49-year-old woman who is unable to conceive and uses birth control for a medical condition, called the pharmacy and asked one of the owners why the pills were being discontinued. The owner told her that birth control pills are dangerous for women.

This is the judgment of a so-called health-care professional. What is actually happening is that Anderson and the Depners are shoving their personal brand of religious bullshit over the counter disguised as a safety concern.

That they would have the unmitigated gall to suggest they are health-care professionals is beyond the pale, until you realize that the same kind of thinking goes right to the top of the US health care system.

I could have, at that point just passed it off as one of those head-shaking moments. Women having their rights removed by some no-account, Christian dominionist pharmacist running an independent drug store in Great Falls. These are the same people who, if they are not permitted to impose their own religious beliefs on others begin to scream "persecution!". And all the while they persecute and endanger others while cloaked in their own superstitious nonsense.

I could have passed it off as one of those things that percolates up from the United States while muttering, "Damn. I'm glad I don't live there." But that would be to deny that Maria Bizecki got away with it in Calgary and still claims to be a health-care professional in Canada.

So, I looked a little deeper into the Snyders situation. Believing I would find nothing of any significance from an independent pharmacy in Montana, I was more than a little surprised to discover that Snyders is actually a fairly large chain of drugstores and is a well-known operation in the upper midwest of the United States. Snyders operates over 100 stores. Some are corporately owned and some are independently operated. The independents are franchises which must carry and dispense products in accordance with company rules. The owner of the Snyders chain of corporate and franchise drugstores is the Katz Group of companies.

And there's the kicker. KatzGroup is actually... Katz Group of Canada. The Snyders drugstore chain is owned by a Canadian retail pharmacy giant, constituting the fifth-largest drug retail operation in North America. Katz Group owns a major portion of the Canadian retail drugstore market with some highly recognizable names including Rexall, Guardian, IDA, Drug Trading Company, PharmaPlus, The Medicine Shoppe, Herbies for Drug and Food, Meditrust Pharmacy and the computerized pharmacy dispensing system, ProPharm, along with the entire Snyders Drugstore chain in the United States.

Katz Group is one of Canada's largest privately-owned companies, controlled by founder and chairman Daryl Katz. I doubt very much Katz has anything at all to do with the behaviour of Anderson and the Depners in Great Falls, Montana. By doing nothing to change that behaviour however, Katz Group is condoning the actions of the Great Falls Snyders drugstore and are complicit in denying health care to a person seeking it.

Whenever I have read this kind of story I have always wondered what the next step of the moralizing religious freaks will be. Will they, out of a sense of moral hauteur, substitute a worthless placebo for the actual prescribed drug?

I would be worried about that. So much so, that I won't do business with any pharmacy that is in any way related to the events in Great Falls. I'll go down the street, even if I have to pay a little more.

And, I'm going to let Daryl Katz know what I'm going to do, by sending an email to his company headquarters right here. If you decide to do the same, include this link.

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