Thursday, November 11, 2004

Moral issues, pharmacology and PR

What is a pharmacy to do when its pharmacists refuse to dispense birth control pills, based on religious beliefs?

This has occured at CVS and KMart drugstores, and it's a percarious situation for them. As a drugstore, want to be able to provide your customers with their medications - be it birth control, Viagra or anything else. If you refuse them their medicines, you know fully well that they are going to stop shopping at your store, and tell all their friends to stop shopping there as well.

On the other side, there is a pharmacist shortage in this country, and it's hard to keep the pharmacists you have. Plus, I'm sure there's some law that saws that you can't compel the pharmacist to dispense birth control pills.

To me, it's simple. I'm going into the pharmacy for my pills - give me my pills, don't push your beliefs onto me. I just want my pills.

But, it is a public relations issue for the drugstores - you have two very vocal sides to this argument, pro-life and pro-choice, and it's not easy to go against either of them. Right now, the pharmacists have the American Pharmacists Association on their side, with a policy that says that pharmacists can refuse to fill a prescription that they object to on moral grounds.

Right now, I wouldn't want to be on the internal PR team for a drugstore. With this coverage in USA Today, pharmacies need to find a middle ground.
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