Dilemmas in dispensing, problems in practice? Ethical issues and law in UK community pharmacy

RJ Cooper, Paul Bissell, Joy Wingfield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Do UK community pharmacists encounter the high drama dilemmas of the medical ethics literature or is a 'morality of the mundane' more appropriate? This paper presents the findings of a qualitative study that asked a sample of UK pharmacists to describe their ethical issues and to establish whether these were ethical dilemmas as understood philosophically or ethical problems of a more legal or emotional nature. It emerged that although many pharmacists referred to 'dilemmas', these were often problems involving a conflict between an ethical value and a legal or procedural issue and often arose in the routine minutiae of dispensing prescriptions and selling medicines. Such ethical problems remained of concern for pharmacists and the commercial environment, corporate pharmacy ownership and pharmacists' subordination to doctors, all precipitated ethical problems. Law and ethics appeared to be understood synonymously but this may reflect a modernity that increasingly brackets out ethical experiences by encouraging reliance upon law and procedure.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-108
Number of pages6
JournalClinical Ethics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2007
Externally publishedYes


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