Dear Mr. Tustin,
Thank you for your email to Mr. Pessina on the ethics of dispensing or selling items of which an individual may disapprove on religious, moral or ethical grounds.
I am currently looking into this matter with the management of Boots UK Ltd.
Firstly, I would point out that the incident in question is a very rare occurrence.
Boots serves 10’s of millions of customers every year throughout the UK and in a number of countries overseas, from every background and religion, without incident of this nature.
As an issue of this nature occurs only very rarely, Boots has not felt the need to issue its own specific internal guidance on the matter to pharmacists.
Until now, Boots has relied on the guidance issued by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, the professional body for pharmacists in England and Wales.
The Society’s guidance permits a pharmacist, for ethical, moral or religious reasons, not to dispense a prescription medicine or sell a non-prescription medicine, as long as the patient has an alternative source for the medicine.
That alternative source could be another pharmacist in the dispensary at the time or an alternative pharmacy nearby.
We are currently reviewing the need to issue clearer guidance to pharmacists working for Boots.
This guidance will make clear that, as a provider of medicines to the general public in the UK for more than 160 years, Boots expects that all pharmacists (whether permanent or locum), serve customers whatever their personal, moral, ethical or religious view on the product being sold.
In this connection, we will also be reviewing Boots’ terms of employment with pharmacists to ensure that pharmacists understand that they are required, under their contract of employment with Boots, to sell any product which a customer may legally purchase.
I trust this answers your question.
This is an email from someone at Boots by the name of Marco Pagni (he does not give his position), in reply to my email less than two hours earlier regarding the reported refusal to issue emergency contraception on religious grounds.
Assuming it’s not misleading, this seems like a nice resolution: Boots will not allow staff to refuse medication on moral grounds.