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Protection of Conscience Project

www.consciencelaws.org

Service, not Servitude
Project Reports

Report 2001-01

Re: College of Pharmacists of British Columbia -
Conduct of the Ethics Advisory Committee

26 March, 2001


APPENDIX "C"

Correspondence with College of Pharmacists

Note: Project correspondence with the College of Pharmacists dealt with several issues raised by the "Ethics in Practice" column in the College’s March/April Bulletin (reproduced in Appendix "B"). The following extracts concern only the subject of this report.

3 April, 2000

To: College of Pharmacists of British Columbia

From: Administrator, Protection of Conscience Project

. . . your bulletin seriously misrepresents the position of most conscientious objectors when it claims that their primary concern is to deny patients "recognized pharmacy services". It also misrepresents the purpose of protection of conscience legislation.

I invite you to visit the Project website to become more familiar with some of the issues involved. More important, I look forward to an early retraction of some of the statements made in this bulletin, and a significant clarification of others.


15 July, 2000

To: College of Pharmacists of British Columbia

From: Administrator, Protection of Conscience Project

Enclosed is a copy of an article that has been submitted for publication to the Canadian Pharmaceutical Journal. I would appreciate it if you would pass it on to Frank Archer.

I believe that you have been busy over the past few weeks, as have I, and I look forward to continuing our dialogue after receiving your response to my letter of 24 May.


24 July, 2000

To: Administrator, Protection of Conscience Project

From: Registrar, College of Pharmacists of B.C.

I have forwarded the proposed Canadian Pharmaceutical Journal article to Frank Archer, as you requested.

I will not be responding to your 24 May 2000 correspondence because I believe that I have provided all the necessary information in my previous two letters to you.


27 July, 2000

To: College of Pharmacists of British Columbia

From: Administrator, Protection of Conscience Project

Thank you for passing on the article to Frank Archer.

While I understand that you do not see a reason to continue our correspondence, there is an important issue that has not been resolved by your letters.

In my first letter I referred to the College Bulletin (March/April 2000, Vol. 25, No. 2: "Ethics in Practice"), stating that it seriously misrepresents the position of most conscientious objectors. Referring to pharmacists who have moral objections to some pharmacy services, the Bulletin, purporting to present their argument, includes the following passage:

"They should be able to dissuade patients requesting these services by denying their availability, or providing information under the guise of patient counselling..."

Confirming the imputation of dishonesty, the Bulletin continues:

"...the profession cannot allow pharmacists to lie about the existence of these services or promote their moral viewpoint in an attempt to persuade patients not to seek recognized pharmacy services they find objectionable."

You will appreciate that unsubstantiated imputations of dishonesty made by persons in authority are likely to encourage bias against conscientious objectors, impose a strain on collegial relations, and adversely impact the workplace environment.

Accordingly, I request that you provide evidence to show that conscientious objectors claim a right to lie to patients, to supply misinformation or promote their moral viewpoint "under the guise of patient counselling", or that their primary goal is to dissuade patients from seeking pharmacy services.

In the absence of such evidence, the College should retract the offending passages in the Bulletin and apologize for having made prejudicial statements.


17 August, 2000

To: College of Pharmacists of British Columbia

From: Administrator, Protection of Conscience Project

I have not yet had a reply to my letter of 27 July referring to the College Bulletin for March/April 2000, Vol. 25, No. 2: "Ethics in Practice".

I noted then that unsubstantiated imputations of dishonesty made by persons in authority are likely to encourage bias against conscientious objectors, impose a strain on collegial relations, and adversely impact the workplace environment.

You have not provided evidence to show that conscientious objectors claim a right to lie to patients, to supply misinformation or promote their moral viewpoint "under the guise of patient counselling", or that their primary goal is to dissuade patients from seeking pharmacy services.

Will the College now retract the offending passages in the Bulletin and apologize for having made prejudicial statements?


8 September, 2000

To: College of Pharmacists of British Columbia

From: Administrator, Protection of Conscience Project

I have not yet had a reply to my letters of 27 July and 17 August referring to the College Bulletin for March/April 2000, Vol. 25, No. 2: "Ethics in Practice".

I noted then that unsubstantiated imputations of dishonesty made by persons in authority are likely to encourage bias against conscientious objectors, impose a strain on collegial relations, and adversely impact the workplace environment.

You have not provided evidence to show that conscientious objectors claim a right to lie to patients, to supply misinformation or promote their moral viewpoint "under the guise of patient counselling", or that their primary goal is to dissuade patients from seeking pharmacy services.

Please retract the offending passages in the Bulletin and apologize for having made prejudicial statements.


11 October, 2000

To: College of Pharmacists of British Columbia

From: Administrator, Protection of Conscience Project

Enclosed is an Access to Information Request made under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act . . .

I look forward to hearing from you within the time specified by the statute.

[Among other things, the access request sought all documents pertaining to the following.]

a) policy on qualifications for appointment to the ethics committee of the College of Pharmacists of British Columbia;

b) policy on the process to be followed in applying for membership in the ethics committee of the College of Pharmacists of British Columbia;

c) policy on the process to be followed in appointing members of the ethics committee of the College of Pharmacists of British Columbia;

d) the number of current members of the ethics committee of the College of Pharmacists of British Columbia, and their academic and professional qualifications and experience relevant to their role as ethics committee members;

e) the number of rejected applications for membership on the ethics committee of the College of Pharmacists of British Columbia received by the College since 1 January, 1995, and the reasons for rejection.


14 November, 2000 (date received by courier)

To: Administrator, Protection of Conscience Project

From: Registrar, College of Pharmacists of British Columbia

. . . There are no formal policy statements relating to the qualifications or application process for appointment to the Ethics Advisory Committee.

The members of the Ethics Advisory Committee are all registered pharmacists or former pharmacists. They all hold a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy degree and have extensive experience as pharmacy practitioners.

There are no records relating to the rejection of applications of Ethics Advisory Committee membership. . .


15 November, 2000

To: College of Pharmacists of British Columbia

From: Administrator, Protection of Conscience Project

. . . It appears that some documents and information that were covered by the request were overlooked. Attached to this letter is a list of the documents that appear to be missing. . .

Academic and professional qualifications and experience of current members of the Ethics Advisory Committee, relevant to their role as ethics committee members.

The following information, provided by the Registrar, includes no information about professional qualifications and experience in ethics or related disciplines (such as philosophy, theology, or law).

"The members of the Ethics Advisory Committee are all registered pharmacists or former pharmacists. They all hold a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy degree and have extensive experience as pharmacy practitioners."


30 November, 2001

To: Administrator, Protection of Conscience Project

From: Registrar, College of Pharmacists of British Columbia

. . . Academic and professional qualifications and experience of current members of the Ethics Advisory Committee: There are no written or other records relating to this topic in our records system.


31 January, 2001

To: College of Pharmacists of British Columbia

From: Administrator, Protection of Conscience Project

. .. It appears from the material supplied and from your letters that the College has no evidence to support statements made in its Bulletin for March/April 2000, Vol. 25, No. 2: "Ethics in Practice" (i.e, that conscientious objectors claim a right to lie to patients, to supply misinformation or promote their moral viewpoint "under the guise of patient counselling", or that their primary goal is to dissuade patients from seeking pharmacy services). Please confirm that this is the case.

It also appears that none of the members of the Ethics Advisory Committee have academic or professional qualifications in ethics, philosophy or related disciplines. I would appreciate it if you would confirm whether or not this is the case by making the appropriate enquiries, and provide the details of any such qualifications held by Ethics Advisory Committee members.


12 February, 2001

To: Administrator, Protection of Conscience Project

From: Registrar, College of Pharmacists of British Columbia

. . . I wish to confirm that I have provided you with all existing records in my custody pertaining to the "Ethics in Practice" column in the March/April issue of the Bulletin.

I also wish to confirm that I have no records in my custody pertaining to the Ethics Advisory Committee members’ academic or professional qualifications in ethics, philosophy or related disciplines. Under the provisions of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, I am not obligated to create records in order to respond to your request under the Act . . .


14 February, 2001

To: College of Pharmacists of British Columbia

From: Administrator, Protection of Conscience Project

. . . It is now clear that the College cannot justify the statements made by its Ethics Advisory Committee in the College Bulletin for March/April 2000, Vol. 25, No. 2: "Ethics in Practice" (quoted in my letter of 31 January and in earlier correspondence.) These unsubstantiated imputations of dishonesty offend against justice, beneficence, and non-maleficence, and appear to contradict Value VII of the College’s Code of Ethics, the very Code that the authors of the bulletin are, by their terms of reference, supposed to interpret and apply.

Will you now retract the statements made in the bulletin and apologize for having published them?

Quite apart from my Access to Information requests, and in view of the foregoing, I ask that you explain what academic or professional qualifications Ethics Advisory Committee members have in ethics, philosophy or related disciplines. Their qualifications are of interest not only to your members, but members of the public.


1 March 2001

To: Administrator, Protection of Conscience Project

From: College of Pharmacists of British Columbia

I have your letter . . . in which you request a retraction and apology for statements made in the "Ethics in Practice" column in the March/April 2000 issue of our newsletter, the Bulletin. I will not be retracting the comments, nor offering an apology.

As I have indicated in previous correspondence, the members of the College’s Ethics Advisory Committee are experienced pharmacists and former pharmacists, all of whom have encountered and responded to a variety of ethical dilemmas in the course of their practice as pharmacists.


 

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