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5 J. Pharmacy & L. 1 (1995-1996)
Pharmaceutically Assisted Death and the Pharmacists Right of Conscience

handle is hein.journals/jpharm5 and id is 7 raw text is: PHARMACEUTICALLY ASSISTED DEATH
AND THE PHARMACIST'S RIGHT OF CONSCIENCE
WILLiAM L. ALLEN, J.D.*
DAVID B. BRUSHWOOD, J.D.**
Pharmacists are health care providers who accept responsibility
for the outcomes of drug therapy by accurately processing medication
orders, detecting and rectifying potential problems with drug therapy,
counseling patients concerning the anticipated effects of drugs, and
monitoring the results of drug use. Once thought of as mere retail
dealers in a product, pharmacists have expanded their activities as
service providers to patients, and have adopted a mission for them-
selves referred to as pharmaceutical care.1 The commitment to
pharmaceutical care signifies that pharmacists are responsible provi-
ders of drug therapy, for the purpose of achieving definite outcomes,
intended to improve patients' quality of life. Pharmacists see them-
selves as drug therapy managers whose duty it is to assure that
patients' best interests are being promoted. This means, necessarily,
that any controversial use of medications, such as execution by lethal
injection, abortion by pharmacotherapy, or pharmaceutically assisted
death through prescription of drugs, is a critical issue for pharmacists.
In this article, we describe the pharmacist's potential involvement
in what has been referred to as physician assisted suicide. We
suggest that when a physician prescribes a medication for the purpose
of terminating a patient's life, and when that prescription is presented
to a pharmacist for filling, a moral dilemma may exist. The basis of
the dilemma is the choice a pharmacist may be required to make
between the duty to fill a legal prescription for a medication that is
deemed appropriate by both the prescriber and the patient, and the
duty to adhere to one's own belief that medication should not be
used to end life. We contend that in filling a prescription, especially
given the recent advances in pharmacy practice, a pharmacist is no
mere bystander in drug therapy. Rather, the pharmacist is an active
participant whose values, attitudes, and beliefs should be given con-
sideration. In the current context of pharmacy practice, where the
* College of Medicine, The University of Florida, Gainesville.
** College of Pharmacy, The University of Florida, Gainesville.
This paper was presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Society for Pharmacy Law
in Orlando, March 18, 1995.
1. See Charles D. Hepler and Linda M. Strand, Opportunities and Responsibilities in
Pharmaceutical Care, 47 AM. J. HOSP. PHARM. 533 (1990). See also, Richard M. Schulz
and David B. Brushwood, The Pharmacist's Role in Patient Care, 21 HASTINGS CENTER
REP., Jan. 1991, at 12.

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