Pharmaceutically assisted death and the pharmacist’s right of conscience

William L Allen, David B Brushwood

Journal of Pharmacy & Law
Journal of Pharmacy & Law

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 consideration.

Allen WL, Brushwood DB. Pharmaceutically assisted death and the pharmacist’s right of conscience. J Pharm Law. 1996;5(1):1-18