Teenager Denied Medication Refill Under AZ’s New Abortion Law

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) – A 14-year-old girl from Tucson was denied refills for a life-saving prescription drug she had been taking for years, just two days after the ban went into effect. new abortion law in Arizona.

Emma Thompson, 14, suffers from debilitating rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis, which has kept her in and out of hospital for most of her life. She relies on methotrexate to help tame the effects of the disease.

But methotrexate can also be used to terminate ectopic pregnancies, to induce an abortion and that is where the problem arises.

“As a mother who had to deal with the fact that my child was very sick most of his life, I was scared, I was really worried,” said his mother Kaitlin Preble. “I was shaking. I was in tears. I didn’t know what to do.

The girl’s doctor, Dr Deborah Jane Power, said ‘she was the first pediatric patient who had been refused her medication’.

She admits she was angry, which spilled over into a post on Twitter where she said “welcome to Arizona, she was turned down because she’s a woman” and she said she was ” livid”.

Treatment for Emma took years to prepare.

“Caring for this child has taken a lot of work to get her to a place where her pain is totally manageable, she can go to school in person,” Dr Power said.

Which is taken up by his mother.

“It’s her freshman year and she’s in high school and it feels like a dream,” Preble said. “She’s not in a wheelchair, she has a social life and friends for the first time and a life that all young people should have.”

This is why there was so much anxiety during the 24 hours between the refusal and the final approval of the prescription.

“I was scared, I was really scared,” Preble said. “I think if they deny this we will have to find another drug and we don’t know if it will work.”

Dr Power says denial happened to some older patients, but never to someone so young and so quickly after the territorial abortion law drafted in 1864 came into effect.

“My concern was that the pharmacist chose not to renew because the methotrexate could be used to induce an abortion,” Dr Power said. “And then the pharmacist would be responsible.”

Walgreens, where the prescription was declined, sent us this statement:

Bud, our goal is to meet the needs of our patients and ensure they have access to the medications they need, in accordance with applicable pharmacy laws and regulations. Trigger laws in various states require additional steps for dispensing certain prescriptions and apply to all pharmacies, including Walgreens. In these states, our pharmacists work closely with prescribers, as needed, to fill legal and clinically appropriate prescriptions. We provide ongoing education and information to help our pharmacists understand the latest requirements in their field, and with these supports they are expected to be empowered to fill legal and clinically appropriate prescriptions.

The American College of Rheumatology has issued warnings for rheumatologists to be aware of the problems that can arise when prescribing methotrexate. These warnings can be found here.

Meanwhile, because of abortion laws, changes have taken place in Arizona.

“Do we know now that what causes my patient to delay access to medical care or sometimes potentially not have access to medication, what kind of change will happen,” Dr. Power said. “It’s really frustrating and I’m very angry.”

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