Pharmacists Have a Duty to Warn

Pharmacists have a duty to warn. Simple, clear, obvious. No mystery here.

A few years ago, I was questioned by a doctor when he prescribed Bextra. It was just days after Vioxx had been withdrawn from the market. I had told his patient that Bextra and Vioxx were members of the same family.

The doctor was not happy. “Why did you tell my patient that Bextra was as dangerous as Vioxx?” He spat the words out like they were soured.

“I did not tell him that,” I said. I explained to the doctor that I had told his patient that Vioxx had been withdrawn from the market. I told him why and I told him that Bextra was in the same category of drug. “I thought that your patient should make an informed decision as to whether he wanted to take Bextra or not,” I added.

“You are interfering with my therapy for this man. Are you allowed to do that?”

“I think that I am allowed,” I said.

“Well it is not right,” he said, “for a pharmacist to butt his nose in where it is not wanted.” This doctor was not a young man. He was pining for the old days when pharmacists filled bottles and kept their mouths shut.

“It is my job,” I said. “I am required by law to counsel your patients on their drug use.”

And we all know what happened to Bextra.

Paul Garbarini is a pharmacist who is also an attorney. It is very simple. According to this lawyer who specializes in things pharmacy: Pharmacists have a duty to warn. Simple, clear, obvious. No mystery here. The next part of his message was unambiguous. If you don’t warn, it could be your job.

Just wanted all of you readers to know that pharmacists are likely out to save themselves.