Friday, December 23, 2005

Activist Pharmacists

I have been reading about pharmacists who feel they have an unpaid duty. They must enforce their religious beliefs on others. Birth control prescriptions and ritalin will not be filled when they are on the job! Same thing with that herpes medication - it's their punishment after all! Of course this does mean one is robbing potential patrons of their individual rights - but one has to impose their moral causes.

The interesting thing is that pharmacists feel they should have this right.
HCD Research surveyed more than 850 pharmacists earlier this month.

Among the newly released findings:

  • Nearly 70 percent indicated that they and their peers should have the authority to refuse filling prescriptions for emergency contraception;
  • Nearly 40 percent believe state laws should not require them to fill certain prescriptions;
  • Only 23 percent feel that a patient's rights should prevail over their objections.

But this cannot be so - businesses wouldn't go along with this! They have to treat all customers the same - and give them what they want -right? Not quite so. It seems pharmacists have better moral judgement than other professions. They can decide what pills to hand out and what not - based on their own discretion. And a few corporations are standing by whatever they wish to enforce on others.

Chain stores that support activist pharmacists with written policy are: Wal-Mart , Target, Walgreens, and Rite Aid. Those who support customers needs are: Costco , CVS , Brooks Pharmacy, K-Mart, Supervalu, Fagen's Pharmacy, Harris Teeter, and Price Chopper. All others have not made known their current policies. Links to the activist corporations go to their customer service website. I encourage anyone reading this to send them a note - whether you agree or disagree - and include an intellectual analysis.

But organizations representing pharmacists do not support the growing activism. The Minnesota Pharmacists Association replied to an e-mail I sent them. I mainly expressed that pharmacists would be taking away others individual rights and that moral judgement should not be part of the pharmaceutical profession. The reply:

We do [ feel the same way ] and we're working on it [ activist pharmacists issue] . Agree with you on all points. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.
Julie K. Johnson, RPh.
Executive Vice President and CEO
Minnesota Pharmacists Association
1935 W. County Road B-2, Suite 165
Roseville, Mn. 55113
(651)789-3204 phone
(651)697-1776 fax

While this issue has not made much headway into Minnesotan politics - it will. Activist pharmacists have support.

And if they get their way - will employees at The Gap turn me away when I enter their store if I am wearing something "uncool?" Will I be told to take my "Vote Nader" button off when I go to Wal-Mart ? Will I be sent out of a store solely because I am "white?" And would the activists like it if they were told to hide their Christian cross necklace? Obviously these scenarios will not happen. But that is what happens when employees are empowered to enforce their "moral beliefs".

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