Protection of Conscience Project
Protection of Conscience Project
Service, not Servitude

Service, not Servitude

Address to College Council and Pharmacists AGM, College of Pharmacists of B.C.

Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada
20 November, 2004
Reproduced with permission
Ann Nadalini*
The following address was made in support of a motion requesting that the College of Pharmacists of BC respect freedom of conscience among pharmacists, the fourth year such a motion has been brought forward. The motion was defeated. The College has been hostile to the concept of freedom of conscience for some time. (See Project Report 2001-01) [Administrator]

I believe a pharmacist should have the right to refuse a prescription that is not in the best interest of their client.

My name is Ann Nadalini, and I have been a pharmacist for 20 years. I have worked half of my career in a hospital pharmacy, and the other half in a community setting.

Every day I make judgements that affect my client's lives, and yes I have refused prescriptions, and with counselling have helped these clients make healthier choices (dimenhydrinate injection, Plan-B, zopiclone, ativan).

It is important for a pharmacist in their clinical practice to utilize all their resources and abilities: intellectual, ethical, and moral. When clients come to my pharmacy, and I counsel them, they know I care about their well-being. My job is to be their champion in the area of medical and health related issues. Every client that comes into my pharmacy I treat as if they were a member of my family. I treat each client with dignity and respect. In order to really care for my client's health, I utilize both intellect and ethical judgements. The ethics I use are based on my personality, my morals and my beliefs.

As an example, we all choose our physicians with care. We take into consideration the doctor's moral viewpoint on sensitive issues, such as abortion and euthanasia. Doctors are not forced by their college to provide abortions, or write prescriptions for emergency contraception, or birth control pills for that matter. Doctors are not cut from one cookie cutter, so that they all fit the same profile, and so it is with pharmacists.

I will not be forced to dispense gravol injection, zopiclone, or ECP's, if I feel it is not in the best interest of my client. To do so would be to try to separate my intellect from my ethics. To do that would create a corrupt personality, which is untrue to my client and myself. If a client does not agree with my intellectual, or ethical standards, they have the free will to use an alternate provider, even if they have to travel down the block, or around the province to get it.

We are not robots that cater to a mass; we are professional practicing individual pharmacists who dispense medication to our community of friends and family. We should have the right to refuse prescriptions based on our own intellectual and ethical abilities. That is why I support the resolution that Value VIII of the Code be amended, so as to be aligned with the medical profession, and state:

A pharmacist will inform a client when his own moral/religious/ethical beliefs may influence his recommendations, so that the client may have the option and freedom to seek advice and or services elsewhere.

If the College makes it illegal to refuse a prescription, based on intellectual and ethical abilities then they take away the very heart of what a pharmacy practice should be.