14-year-old girl denied arthritis treatment amid Arizona abortion ban

For years, Deborah Power, a rheumatologist in Tucson, had prescribed methotrexate to treat rheumatoid arthritis to her 14-year-old patient. But after only two days from the state Abortion ban Going into effect last month, the teen’s drugstore denied refills.

The reason: In a higher dose, methotrexate – a drug used to treat some types of cancer, arthritis, and a large number of autoimmune diseases – can also be used. Induction of abortion and termination of ectopic pregnancyalthough that’s not the most common use, Bauer told the Washington Post.

Emma Thompson was eventually able to fill her prescription, but the delay highlights the medical complications some patients face Establishes strict abortion rules. Even if their medication is not prescribed to terminate the pregnancy, reverse it in June Raw vs. Wade Bauer said he has thrown pharmacists, patients and doctors into a “continuous juggling act,” balancing medical care with changing policies and potential legal consequences.

“I don’t think everyone understands what the implications of such a broad and comprehensive anti-abortion law are and how many other women are affected by this,” she added. “Like how can we decide that women can’t get this drug that men can? This is sexism. And how can you make a law that doesn’t allow me to provide a standard of care for my patients?”

Abortion bans complicate access to drugs for cancer, arthritis, and even ulcers

Throughout Emma’s life, rheumatoid arthritis — an inflammatory disorder that causes the body’s immune system to attack healthy tissue in the joints — has led to lengthy hospital stays, clinical trials, and “pain too severe to allow her to lead a normal life,” said her mother, Caitlin Prebel. For 10 years, her daughter’s doctors tried different doses of methotrexate, finally arriving about a year ago in the right amount that would allow Emma to thrive, attend school and “simply be a normal teen,” Prebel said.

All of that seemed to be at stake on September 25, when Preble checked its Walgreens app to see if Emma’s prescriptions were ready. Instead of the green light that it could be picked up, a message appeared saying that methotrexate refill was refused.

“He didn’t even say why,” Pribel said. “He just said I should call my doctor.”

However, Pribel said she had an idea that the state’s new abortion ban dates back to the 19th century and prohibits the procedure, except for saving a pregnant woman. Life – it had to do with it. She said her suspicions were confirmed the next day, when Pribel headed to the pharmacy and “made a big deal inside.”

Arizona is one of several Republican-controlled states that cite a century-old law as a rationale for rolling back access to abortions. (Video: Julie Yoon, Joshua Carroll/The Washington Post)

At first, no one explained why her daughter couldn’t get a drug “important to her health,” Pribel said at first. Then I asked the pharmacy technician for some answers.

“The pharmacist said she denied it because Emma is 14,” Pribel said, the childbearing age. Then I asked the pharmacy tech, ‘Well, did you look at its history? She had been on this medication for a long time, and the pharmacist said, “No, which I think was very important.”

Through it all, Pribel was shivering and crying: “I understand pharmacists are afraid because they don’t want to be in charge of anything. But it’s very unfair to put a child in this unpredictable situation. And we shouldn’t jump through all these hoops to get on medication.”

In a statement to The Post, a Walgreens spokesperson said that while the company cannot discuss individual patients, “new laws in different states require additional steps to distribute certain prescriptions and apply them to all pharmacies, including Walgreens.”

“In these states, pharmacists work closely with prescribers as needed, to fill prescriptions that are legal and clinically appropriate,” the spokesperson said. “We provide ongoing training and information to help our pharmacists understand the latest requirements in their area.”

Patients across the country are facing similar situations as more drugs are being screened. Many drugs are teratogenic, or drugs that can lead to fetal abnormalities and miscarriage if taken by a pregnant woman. In some cases, women have to prove they are on birth control or submit pregnancy tests to pharmacies to fulfill prescriptions for medications that can terminate a pregnancy. mentioned.

When it comes to methotrexate – which is used or has been used by nearly 60 percent rheumatoid arthritis patients Medical groups have already said there are increasing challenges in getting the drug. In Texas, for example, pharmacists are allowed to refuse to fill prescriptions for misoprostol and methotrexate under a state’s “heartbeat bill.” American College of Rheumatology In July, pharmacists urged across the country to provide medicines “without delay and assuming they are not used to terminate a pregnancy”.

“Methotrexate should remain accessible to people with rheumatic diseases, and legal safeguards should protect rheumatologists, pharmacists, and patients from potential legal penalties,” the medical group said in a statement.

Federal officials warn pharmacists not to refuse abortion drugs

The new laws also affected patients with other conditions, such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. In August, the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation said it was “strongly opposed” to policies that prevent patients from accessing approved treatments.

“The decision on the most appropriate treatment for their disease should be made as a joint decision between the patient and the healthcare professional, based on medical evidence,” the organization wrote in a letter. statement.

Although her daughter’s next refill has not been scheduled for another month, Prieble said she already fears the possibility of another rejection.

“These laws are very extreme and don’t take into account all the different scenarios people go through,” she said.

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