Pharmacists obliged to sell Morning- After-Pill regardless of beliefs

Irish pharmacists are obliged to sell the Morning-After-Pill (MAP), which can act as an abortofacient, regardless of their beliefs or they could fall foul of the pharmacists’ Code of Conduct.

Last week, the Irish Medicinces Board approved the sale of Norlevo, a new type of MAP, over the counter without the need for a prescription.

The Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland (PSI) has confirmed to The Irish Catholic that under their Code of Conduct, pharmacists must stock the MAP or “take reasonable action to ensure that these medicines or services are provided”.

The Code makes no provision for the possible conscientious objections of Catholic or other pharmacists who have ethical objections to selling the product.

In response to questions from The Irish Catholic, the PSI said that if a pharmacy did not have a supply of the MAP in stock at a given point in time, they would have to refer a customer to another pharmacy.

On the issue of the lack of conscience clause, the PSI said “the Code is as it stands”.

Principle One of the Code of Conduct states: ”The practice by a pharmacist of his/her profession must be directed to maintaining and improving the health, wellbeing, care and safety of the patient. This is the primary principle and the following principles must be read in light of this principle.”

Interpreting Principle One, the guide to the Code says pharmacists must ”ensure that in instances where they are unable to provide prescribed medicines or pharmacy services to a patient they must take reasonable action to ensure these medicines/services are provided and the patient’s care is not jeopardised”.

This is the interpretation to which the PSI referred The Irish Catholic when asked whether pharmacists must sell the Morning-After pill regarding of any possible ethical objections.

A spokesperson for the PSI stated: ”The Pharmacy Act (2007) obliges pharmacists to practise under this code which places the health, wellbeing, care and safety of patients as their primary concern.”