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Thursday, 5 May 2011

Pharmacists Forced to be Agents of the Culture of Death



H/T to Fathers Stephen and John Boyle for this article from The Pharmaceutical Journal. It's a great article and a little miracle that it got printed by PJ.

More sex please! We’re pharmacists
Wed, 27/04/2011 - 13:41
RoseMary Baker, pharmacist from Wirral, Merseyside

Chocolate bars on the medicines counter? I think not. Cigarettes next to the nicotine replacement therapy? No way. Wines and spirits on the gondola next to the waiting area? I hardly think so. Lottery tickets? Perhaps.

As pharmacists we have an obligation to uphold lifestyle standards appropriate to good health. We are urged not to sell confectionery. Why? Do our customers not have the right to choose to become obese or loose their teeth? Many people eat chocolate sensibly and sometimes sweets may be a necessity for someone with diabetes and yet pharmacists consider it a professional responsibility to protect those who would abuse the situation.

Everyone knows the dangers of smoking and no pharmacist would want to sell tobacco products. The supply of reefers as part of addiction treatment is an ethical dilemma many would wish to avoid. Pharmacies throughout Britain make a great contribution to the anti-smoking campaign and there can be few people in Britain who are not aware of the possible consequences of smoking.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society recognises that some pharmacies do sell alcohol but advises that those who do so must provide educational information on alcohol abuse.

So, all in all, you might well say that pharmacy as a profession does a good job in educating the public on the interface between pleasure and health.

Quite right, too. We are health professionals with a duty to encourage our customers to live healthily. We provide lots of leaflets on giving up smoking, eating sensibly and keeping within the recommended limits of alcohol consumption. We are happy to spend time counselling on nicotine replacement or healthy eating. We think up new ways of encouraging people to take more exercise or cut down on fats; we warn people of the likelihood of developing diabetes if they are overweight; we terrify them with statistics on cardiovascular problems and cancer.

But what about sex? Well now, that is different. Oh yes, we do display leaflets on how to have safe sex or where to go if you need an abortion. In Wales we can provide post-coital contraceptives free of charge without the necessity of obtaining a prescription from a doctor. Are we being as fair to the public about sex as we are about smoking or eating sweets or drinking alcohol? Do we highlight the failure rate of contraceptives or do we couch the true failure rate in terms like “if used effectively”. Do we shout from the rooftops the fact that many progesterone only pills are likely to fail if the dose is more than three hours late? Have we fought for a Government health warning on condoms which says “this product is likely to fail if you have never used a condom before and you are fumbling around in the dark at the back of the youth club”? Do we help to punch home the truth that sexually transmitted infections really are transmitted sexually, are highly unpleasant and often lead to infertility later in life?

Truth
If we as pharmacists really want to contribute to the sexual health of the nation we should be fighting for greater truth to be told regarding contraceptive failure and the consequences of that failure. We should be spreading the news that there is some chance of failure with all contraceptives and that failure leads to a baby for life or an abortion, the memory of which will surely stay for a lifetime. Survey after survey has shown that pharmacists are considered to be accessible and respected for their knowledge of health matters, so why are we failing the public, especially the young public, in the area of sexual health?

Why are we as a profession going along with the lie that postcoital contraception is not abortifacient. Someone, and I do not know who, decided that pregnancy does not begin until an embryo is implanted in the lining of the uterus. How can that be? As scientists we should recognise, that a new life form, genetically distinct from either parent, comes into existence when the sperm and ovum fuse. Once that new life form exists, call it what you will, to destroy it is an abortifacient action. Some may not consider that important but we should be telling people the facts so that they can make their own ethical decision.

We tell people half-heartedly about sexually transmitted diseases but encourage wider availability of postcoital contraception and kid ourselves that such supply does not encourage irresponsible behaviour. When passions are running high would not the prospect of buying a tablet in the morning seem more acceptable than breaking the mood while a condom is applied?

Pharmacists who oppose the availability of post-coital contraception over the counter are branded as, at best, kill-joys and more often, religious bigots. In actual fact these pharmacist are the ones who have their minds tuned to the reality of the situation.

The teenage pregnancy statistics for the UK are terrifying. What are we as a profession doing about it? We just find ways of making the morning after pill ever more widely available instead of spreading the word that sex, far more than chocolate and alcohol, needs to be treated with restraint and respect.

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