Italy: a congress to defend pharmacists’ rights to conscientious objection

Publié le : 10 February 2014

 On 5 February, a congress organised by the Catholic Union of Italian Pharmacists (UCFI), on the topic: “Pharmacists’ conscientious objection: between bioethics, professional deontology and bio rights” was held at the Italian Chamber of Ministers. The aim? “To defend the right to conscientious objection by healthcare professionals“. Because, as far as Italian pharmacists are concerned, “conscientious objection is not a State ‘concession’ but a genuine natural right“. 

Current legislation in force stems from the Royal Decree of 1938, which obliges pharmacists “to sell each requested product and – if the said product is not available, to locate it as quickly as possible“. 
For Minister Gian Luigi Gigli, round table moderator, conscientious objection by pharmacists is under threat from abortion products such as the morning-after pill and RU 486. At the same time, he deplores “the recent European Directive on ‘cross border medicine’ which allows clients to go abroad to purchase medicines that cannot be legally marketed in their own country“. 
For MP Fabrizio Di Stefano, pharmacist and politician, pharmacists “serve life“. Consequently, pharmacists would be failing in their duties if this principle was not respected. On the other hand, he states that pharmacists “cannot act simply as sales assistants” because “they are responsible for the health of patients, who are not straightforward consumers“. 

To conclude, the President of the UCFI, Piero Uroda, reminded the congress that the right to conscientious objection and protecting human dignity went hand in hand. Finally, since conscientious objection on the part of pharmacists is protected by the Ethics Code, approved by the World Federation of Pharmacists and recognised as an inviolable human right by the National Bioethics Committee in 2012, no change in legislation is required. 

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