The Drug Fair chain yesterday joined a group of independent D.C. pharmacies in refusing to sell the February issue of Life magazine, which carries a controversial story on Bernard C. Welch, accused killer of Washington cardiologist Michael Halberstam.

A Drug Fair official said the decision to pull the issue from the chain's 175 stores was made "because we object to the Bernard Welch article."

The Life story, entitled "The Ghost Burglar and the Good Doctor, has drawn criticism because the magazine paid Welch $8,000 to publish exclusive photographs of him with to story.

D.c. city council member David A. Clarke (D-Ward 1), in a statement yesterday endorsing attempts to boycott the magazine, said the payment "commercializes the story and is viewed by many as virtual compensation for [Welch's] alleged exploits."

Clarke, chairman of the council's Judiciary Committee, also said he has asked D.C. Superior Court officials what effect the payment might have on Welch's pending request that he is eligible for publicly financed legal services. Welch's lawyer has maintained that his client is indigent.

Officials of two other major drug chains serving the Washington area, Peoples Drug Stores and Dart Drug, repeated yesterday that they have no plans to join the boycott of the magazine.

Welch has pleaded not guilty to the murder charge.