One of the largest and most popular pharmacy chains in the country is going viral for all the wrong reasons after an employee reportedly refused to sell condoms to a customer because of their religious beliefs. The internet is now full of stories from customers that say they experienced something similar while shopping at the pharmacy outlet. Some say they were denied Plan B and birth control, while others say the company is using their personal information against them. Another customer said they received a container of baby formula after the pregnancy test they bought at the store came back positive.
The stories started popping up online just a few weeks after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, and experts say some employees are now using the ruling to refuse care.
An official tweet from the Walgreens company has resurfaced amid the controversy. It says the pharmacy chain allows pharmacists to refuse to fill a prescription if they have “a moral objection.”
But company policy says the provider should ask another pharmacist to fill the prescription instead of refusing care altogether. The provision applies to birth control, emergency contraceptives, and anything an employee may find objectionable.
“Our policy allows pharmacists to step away from filling a prescription for which they have a moral objection,” the company posted on Twitter. “At the same time, they are also required to refer the prescription to another pharmacist or manager on duty to meet the patient’s needs in a timely manner.”
Abigail Martin, 21, recently shared her experience at Walgreens on TikTok. She tried to fill her prescription for birth control, the same one she’s been taking for the last six years, but the pharmacy refused. She said she had several refills remaining, but she got a text from the pharmacy that said she had none remaining. She tried calling, but it went nowhere, so she visited the store in person.
When she arrived, she met a Walgreens employee wearing two religious crosses. The worker told her that her prescription couldn’t be filled and that she’d have to call her provider.
“I said ‘You won’t refill it, or you can’t refill it?’” Martin said.
She called her provider who told her that she still had four refills left. The provider didn’t know why the pharmacy wouldn’t fill it. They called Walgreens to work it out, but that didn’t help either.
Martin said she eventually got a text from Walgreens that said her prescription was delayed and then one that said it was out of stock.
She called again and another employee promised her the prescription would be filled. The worker asked Martin who she had spoken to previously.
“I was intrigued, so I told her, and I said, ‘Could I ask why?’” Martin said. “She goes, ‘I know exactly who you’re talking about, and we’ve been having this problem for the last two weeks.’ They’ve been having a problem with women not being able to get their birth control for the last two weeks. So first they want us to stop getting pregnant and having abortions and then they don’t want to help us prevent that pregnancy.”
Martin shared her reaction in a video online. “Access to health care should be a right,” Martin said, tearing up in the video. “And this should not be happening.”
Nate Pentz went through something similar when he and his wife, Jess, stopped at a Walgreens in Hayward, Wisconsin to buy condoms because they had left her birth control pills at home.
“We went to Hayward to get some groceries and a stop at @Walgreens because we had left Jess birth control at home,” he tweeted. “As Jess was checking out, cashier John told her he couldn’t sell her the condoms. ‘Oh, I got them from over there,’ but the employee said, ‘We can, but I won’t because of my faith.’”
“It is none of your business,” Jess replied.
“I can get a manager here, do you want me to finish checking out these things,” the cashier said.
“Not from you!” Jess said.
The couple then reported the cashier on the Walgreens customer feedback form.
“He proceeded to embarrass me in front of other customers for my reproductive choices,” the comment said.
A woman named Nicole had a different kind of embarrassing experience. She said she received a container of Enfamil baby formula after taking a pregnancy test she bought at Walgreens.
“I, of course, used my rewards card when checking out,” she said. “So, I’m pretty sure that’s how this got to me.”
She suspects the company shared her info with Enfamil. “THERE IS A FORMULA SHORTAGE, and yet @Enfamil is sending out formula all willy-nilly based on the data you clearly sold them,” she tweeted. “Shame on you @Enfamil.”
“Dear @Walgreens, I received this package today a week after purchasing a pregnancy test at your store. I was asked to take the test by my doctor despite having no Fallopian tubes,” she tweeted.
“Second, what if I were desperately trying to get pregnant and can’t?” she said in another tweet. “Wouldn’t this be a kick to the face?!”
“What do you say to the women in states where abortion is now illegal?” she said as part of a Twitter thread. “Are you trying to make a political statement or is this just a big money grab?
“And here’s what the box says. REGIFTABLE?! Kiss off,” she said, addressing the retailer and the formula company. “From all the women who actually need this box that you are not helping.”
Reckitt Benckiser Group, the company that makes Enfamil, denied the allegations.
“We treat your personal information extremely seriously,” the company said. “Reckitt does not have access to Walgreens’ customer personal information. To receive any promotional items from Reckitt, consumers must opt-in and provide consent either with Reckitt directly or with one of its partners.”