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Business and Professional Ethics Journal

Volume 25, Issue 1/4, 2006

Thomas A. Hemphill, Waheeda Lillevik
Pages 39-66

U.S. Pharmacists, Pharmacies, and Emergency Contraception
Walking the Business Ethics Tightrope

This article addresses a set of exploratory questions related to emergency contraception and the right to refuse to dispense such drugs. The paper first addresses the roles of the pharmacist in American society, i.e., as professional, employee, and business owner, and the pharmacists’s identity and belief system; second, the paper reviews the status of state law and proposed legislation concerning patient/consumer access to emergency contraceptives; third, it offers an in-depth stakeholder analysis of the ethical and legal responsibilities of pharmacies to stakeholders; and fourth, the paper provides overview of the salient ethical and legal issues concerning patient/customer access to emergency contraceptives relevant to management. The conclusions discuss questions for further research as well as strategic/human resource management policy recommendations that balances the economic, legal, and ethical concerns of all primary stakeholders of the company/business, such as designing a management system which refers customers in a timely fashion; recognizing “conscience clauses,” while ensuring that pharmacists “do no harm” to the consumer; and disseminating management “best practices” on “conscience clauses” through joint professional/industry sponsorship.

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