Pharmacological Ethics Question

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In the mid-2000s, a series of pharmacists working at major companies like Target, CVS, and Eckerd’s refused to sell women contraceptives at the pharmacy of their respective stores. The disgruntled pharmacists stated their refusal to sell contraceptives was based on the ethics prescribed by their religions. The actions lead to several protests against the companies the rogue pharmacists worked for. Many of the stores protected the pharmacists, stating it was an ethical decision for each individual pharmacist and the company would support their decisions.

Questions:

1. Should pharmacists be allowed to deny a patient their prescription medicines?

2. Should companies support workers, who for their individual ethical reasons cannot perform their duties they were hired to do?

3. Should the local, state, or federal government become involved in this ethical question?

Links:

One of many stories: http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2004-11-08-druggists-pill_x.htm

The Pharmacist Oath and Code of Ethics: http://www.uspharmd.com/pharmacist/Pharmacist_Oath_and_Code_of_Ethics.html

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One Response to Pharmacological Ethics Question

  1. John M says:

    I first looked up a Pharmacological code of ethics and found #III interesting:

    III. A pharmacist respects the autonomy and dignity of each patient.

    A pharmacist promotes the right of self-determination and recognizes individual self-worth by encouraging patients to participate in decisions about their health. A pharmacist communicates with patients in terms that are understandable. In all cases, a pharmacist respects personal and cultural differences among patients.

    The laws of State and Federal authorities are more black & white as to what a pharmacist can and can’t do but lead one to believe that the doctor prescribes the drugs, the pharmacist issues them and if there is disagreement it is between the Doc & Pharmacist, they work it out. There was no mention of religion in the text….

    lastly mission Statements:
    Target:”To drive sales profitably while delivering a Target brand shopping experience.”
    CVS:We will be the easiest pharmacy
    retailer for customers to use.
    Eckerd:I could not find on line but when GOOGLEing did have free viagra samples pop up, which I took to suggest they had altered their view from the mid 2000s…

    Interestingly CVS’s value statement below did have respect for individuals as their #1 value.

    OUR VALUES

    Respect for individuals
    Integrity
    Teamwork
    Openness to new ideas
    Commitment to flawless execution
    Passion for extraordinary customer service

    With all this in mind it appears, to me, that individual pharmacist need to leave their beliefs at the door when they go to work. It is a collaborative relationship between doctors, pharmacists and patients. Specifically because they pharmacist doesn’t know why the contraception is issued, perhaps to prevent a life threatening condition the woman could face in the event she became pregnant??? Who is the pharmacist to decide that fate? I believe they did violate the oath they took as pharmacists. It would be up to the state and/or federal board to get involved, in the event that the company could not gain compliance.

    I know in NH their is an administrative hearings board that would review and complaint(s) and if the issue was on a point of law it would be heard in the NH Supreme Court.

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