Q/Below is a hypothetical scenario. Please discuss and address the scenario from an ethical, legal a

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Q/Below is a hypothetical scenario. Please discuss and address the scenario from an ethical, legal and policy point of view. 


It is April 2022. You’re the pharmacist working at a small pharmacy in regional Victoria. Many of the people in the community are of non-English speaking background. There is also a large proportion of people who are retired, and people with a low socio-economic status.


One day, the owner of the pharmacy calls all staff for a staff meeting. The owner informs everyone that he is bringing in a range of new homeopathy medicine products and is advertising it as a ‘COVID-19 prevention starter pack’, retailing at $35 per packet. He would like all staff to recommend this to every customer who comes into the pharmacy, and no customer should leave without making a purchase. To enforce the sales of this starter pack, the owner also stopped offering COVID-19 vaccinations.


After the meeting, the owner pulls you aside and states that wants you to enforce generic substitutions on all patients unless the ‘No brand substitution allowed’ box is ticked. He also says that this is something you should tell all pharmacy students and dispensary technicians to do.


Immediately after your conversation with the owner, one of your regular customers, Mrs Jennis comes in. Mrs Jennis doesn’t speak English and sometimes gets confused with her medications. As a result, you usually supply her the same brand of medications because you know Mrs Jennis recognizes her pills by the colour of the boxes. The owner talks with her and tells her that he is going to “do her a favour” by giving her the generic medication this time, which is “just the same as the one she normally gets, just less expensive”. You can see that Mrs Jennis is already getting confused. The blood pressure medication she usually takes comes in a green box, but the new generic the owner is giving her comes in a white box, which is the same box colour as her diabetes medication.


A few weeks later, your pharmacy gets 10 boxes of government approved oral COVID-19 medications indicated for COVID-19 treatment. You later get a phone call from a local doctor asking if you have any stock, as she has a 90-year-old patient who is eligible for the medication. Your owner who was standing nearby snatches the phone over and tells the doctor that you didn’t get any stock. The owner later tells you that it’s good to keep some COVID-19 medications on hand ‘just in case’, and no one checks on a small pharmacy like this one anyway.


Later, the owner’s son comes in and hands you several scripts which all requests for the oral COVID-19 medications. You notice that they are all for the owner’s family. You notice that the doctor’s signature is missing on several scripts, and you question the legitimacy of the script. Upon checking the dispensing history, you notice that the owner has been regularly dispensing medications to his family without any doctors details. From your knowledge, the owner’s family are all young, healthy, and fully vaccinated. You ask the owner’s son if anyone in the family has COVID-19 and he says no. You then receive a phone call from the owner who tells you that the script is perfectly fine, and you can dispense it.


A week later the owner comes back. He pulls you aside and tells you that he has been keeping a close eye on sales figures and that your ‘COVID-19 prevention starter pack’ sales are the lowest. The owner tells you that you need to “do better” and that there are “plenty of young pharmacists who would like your job – you can leave if you don’t like it”.




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