Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Journal accuses Shoppers Drug Mart of poaching South African pharmacists

I find the concept of recruiting health professionals from other geographic areas a fascinating ethical question. Who is to say that a foreign pharmacist doesn't deserve the opportunity to build a new life in another country? Also, what about luring health professionals from rural areas of Canada to larger urban centres? What if Shoppers recruits the only pharmacist in a small town in northern Manitoba and leaves that town without pharmacy services?

I'm not sure why a physicians group has decided to take Shoppers Drug Mart to task on this. I'd like to hear the Canadian Medical Association's views on urban health regions recruiting in smaller Canadian towns that are already short of physicians.

The last line in the article is very interesting...

"If Shoppers Drug Mart fails to act before World AIDS Day on Dec. 1, CMAJ also believes governments, hospitals and all Canadians should show solidarity for South Africa, and take their business elsewhere."

Does this mean we will see a physician led boycott of Shoppers Drug Mart? Will physicians counsel their patients to not get their prescriptions there? Will they refuse to send new or refill prescription orders to Shoppers? As far as I'm aware, physicians are ethically obliged to not suggest one pharmacy over another to patients.

From the Canadian Press:
Human rights activist and former UN ambassador Stephen Lewis joined one of Canada's pre-eminent medical journals Tuesday in denouncing an iconic drugstore chain for aggressively recruiting South African pharmacists and potentially fuelling a public health disaster.

In an article to be published in its January edition, the Canadian Medical Association Journal takes Shoppers Drug Mart, Canada's largest drugstore chain, to task, accusing it of going after the very pharmacists South Africa desperately needs to dispense drugs to its own population.

For the last three years, Shoppers has dispatched recruiters to the southern African country with aim of luring pharmacists with the promise of a guaranteed $100,000 salary, the journal says.

"This behaviour is not just gauche; it is unethical," the article states. ...more

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