Pharmacy World and Science

, Volume 22, Issue 1, pp 10–16 | Cite as

Ethics applied to pharmacy practice

  • R.P. Dessing


This article tries to develop an ethical reasoning that can be applied to (the practice of) pharmacy. Only general principles, based on accepted values in western society, lead to guidelines for ethical behaviour. Such essential values are personal autonomy, democracy and solidarity.The principle of nonmaleficence can be derived from these. Results of this analysis can be applied to health care and pharmacy practice. Subchapters deal with questions such as budget limitations and the autonomy of the patient versus that of the care provider. It concludes that protocols are important tools for ethical behaviour in every day practice. The ethical problem appears to be the unequal access to the health care system.An analysis of pharmaceutical care in the light of ethics can help to formulate the pharmacist's responsibilities. The principle of nonmaleficence is strongly connected to the pharmacy profession. Pharmacists should focus more on possible negative outcomes of pharmacotherapy. Monitoring the patient's medication, identification and prevention of possible adverse effects, medication surveillance, proper communication and information about the use of medicines are therefore priority items within our profession. A definition of target groups for pharmaceutical care will facilitate this task.A suggestion for a general code of ethics for pharmacists is proposed and compared with the code of ethics as currently accepted by the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP)‐ council.

Adverse effects Autonomy Cost control Medication surveillance Nonmaleficence Pharmaceutical care Pharmaco economics Pharmacovigilance Pharmacy Pharmacy profession Philosophy 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • R.P. Dessing
    • 1
  1. 1.Apotheek AAN ZEENoordwijkThe Netherlands

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