Code of Pharmaceutical Ethics

Code of Pharmaceutical Ethics

Intended Learning Outcomes

  • At the end of this lecture, student will be able to

       Describe the code of moral principles a pharmacist should have

      Illustrate the code of ethics framed by the Pharmacy Council of India


·         Ethics may be defined as “the code of moral principles” or as “the science of morals”

·        The conduct of individuals, in any society, is governed by the governmental control as well as society lays down a code of conduct to help the individuals differentiate between right and wrong

      Such a code when practised for a long time by the society results in the development of culture of conscience

·       This code when practised in relation to a particular profession is known as professional ethics                

Code of ethics by PCI

This is meant to guide the pharmacist about his/her conduct in relationship to himself, his patrons, general public, co-professionals and other health professionals

The profession of pharmacy , apart from being a career for livelihood, it has inherent in it, the attitude of service and sacrifice in the interests of the suffering humanity in handling, selling, distributing, compounding and dispensing medical substances, including poisons and patent drugs

A pharmacist in collaboration with medical men and others is charged with the responsibility of safeguarding the health of people

Standards of professional conduct for pharmacy are necessary in the public interests to ensure an efficient pharmaceutical service

Every pharmacist should not only be willing to play his part in offering such a service but should also avoid such acts or omission which would hamper the giving of the services or impair confidence in any respect for pharmacists as a body

The essential features of the code of pharmaceutical ethics formulated by the pharmacy council of India are as follows:

     1. Pharmacists in relation to his job

     2. Pharmacists in relation to his trade

     3. Pharmacists in relation to Medical Profession

     4. Pharmacists in relation to his profession

Pharmacist in relation to his job

Scope of Pharmaceutical Services

        Supply of commonly required medicines

        Willing to furnish emergency supplies at all times

Conduct of the Pharmacy

        Error of accidental contamination in the preparation, dispensing and supply of medicines are avoided

        Appearance of the premises should reflect the professional character of pharmacy

        Should be clear to the public that the practice of pharmacy is carried out in the establishment

        In every pharmacy, there should be a pharmacist in personal control of the pharmacy

        A notice stating that dispensing under (Employees State Insurance Scheme) E.S.I.S. or any other such other schemes
sponsored by Government is carried out may be exhibited at the premises.

Handling of prescriptions

       When a prescription is presented for dispensing it should be received by a pharmacist without any discussion or comment over it regarding the merits and demerits of its therapeutic efficiency.

       The Pharmacist should not show any expression of alarm or astonishment upon the receipt of a prescription; as such things may cause anxiety in patients or their agents and may even shake their faith in their physician.

        Any question on a prescription should be answered with every caution and care; it should neither offend a patron nor should it disclose any information, which
might have been intentionally, withheld from him.

       It is not within the privilege of a Pharmacist
to add, omit or substitute any ingredient or alter the composition of a prescription without the consent of the prescriber, unless the change is emergent or is demanded purely by the technique of the pharmaceutical art and does not cause any alteration in the therapeutic action of the recipe.

       In case of any obvious error in it, due to any omission, incompatibility or over dose, the prescription should be referred back to the prescriber for correction or approval of the change suggested. While such an act is imperative in the best interest of the patient,
in no case should it be done in a manner, which may endanger the reputation of the prescriber concerned.

       In matter of refilling prescriptions a pharmacist should solely be guided by the instructions of the prescriber and he should advise patients to use medicines or remedies strictly in accordance with the intention of the physician noted on the prescription.

Handling of Drugs

       All possible care should be taken to dispense a
prescription correctly by weighing and measuring all ingredients in correct proportions by the help of scale and measures: visual estimations must be avoided.

       Further, a Pharmacist should always use drugs and medicinal preparations of standard quality available.

       He should never fill his prescriptions with spurious, sub-standard and unethical preparations.

       A Pharmacist should be Judicious in dealing with drugs and medicinal preparations to be used for addiction or any other abusive purposes.

      Such drugs and preparations should not be supplied to any one if there is reason to suppose that it is required for such purpose.

Apprentice Pharmacists:

       While in-charge of a dispensary, drugstore or hospital pharmacy where apprentice pharmacists are admitted for practical training, a pharmacist should see that the trainees are given full facilities for their work so that on the completion of their training they have acquired sufficient technique and skill to make themselves dependable pharmacists.

       No certificate or credentials should be granted unless the above criterion is attained and the recipient has proved himself worthy of the same.

Pharmacist in relation to his Trade

Price Structure:

       Prices charged from customers should be fair and
in keeping with the quality and quantity of commodity supplied and the labor and skill required in making it ready for use, so as to ensure an adequate remuneration to the pharmacist taking into consideration his knowledge, skill, the time consumed and the great responsibility involved, but at the same time without unduly taxing the purchaser

  Fair Trade Practices

       No attempt should be made to capture the business of a contemporary by cut-throat competition, that is, by offering any sort of prizes or gifts to patronizers or by knowingly charging lower prices for medical commodities than those charged by fellow pharmacist if they are reasonable.

       In case any order or prescription genuinely intended to be served by some dispensary is brought by mistake to another, the latter should refuse to accept it and should direct the customer to the right place.

       Labels, trademarks and other signs and symbols of contemporaries should not be imitated or copied.

       Purchase of Drugs: Drugs should always be purchased from genuine and reputable sources and a
pharmacist should always be on his guard not to aid or abet, directly or indirectly the manufacture, possession, distribution and sale of spurious or sub- standard drugs

       Hawking of Drugs:

Hawking of drugs and medicinal should not be encouraged nor should any attempt be made to solicit orders for such substances from door to door. Self-service method of operating pharmacies and drug – stores should not be used as this practice may lead to the distribution of therapeutic substances without an expert supervision and thus would encourage self-medication, which is highly undesirable.

     Advertising and Displays: No display material either on the premises, in the press or elsewhere should be
used by a pharmacist in connection with the sale to the public of medicines or medical appliances which is undignified in style or which contains:-

Any wording design or illustration reflecting unfavorably on pharmacist’s collectivity or upon any group or individual.

B.   A disparaging reference, direct of by implication to other supplier

C.   Misleading or exaggerated statements or claims

D.    The word “Cure” in reference to an ailment or symptoms of ill-health

E.     A guarantee of therapeutic efficacy

F.     An appeal to fear

G.   An offer to refund money paid.

H.   A prize, competition or similar scheme.

I.      Any reference to a medical practitioner or a hospital or the use of the terms “Doctor” or “Dr.” or “Nurse” in connection with the name of the preparation not already established.

J.      A reference to sexual weakness, premature ageing or loss of virility.

K.    A reference to complaints of sexual nature in terms, which lack the reticence proper to the subject.

      Contraceptive preparations and appliances or their illustration except a notice approved by regulations or bearing the words Family planning requisite should not be exhibited.

       Contraceptive preparations and appliances or their illustrations should not be exhibited except a notice approved by regulations or bearing the words “Family Planning Requisites”.

       Under no circumstances should lustful obscene and indecent publications of any kind or description be sold or distributed.

       As this practice is highly detrimental to the moral welfare of the Nation

Pharmacists in Relation to Medical Profession

Limitation of Professional Activity:

       Whereas it is expected that medical practitioners in general would not take to the practice of pharmacy by owing drug stores, as this ultimately leads to coded prescriptions and monopolistic practices detrimental to the pharmaceutical profession and also to the interest of patients

       It should be made a general rule that pharmacists under no circumstances take to medical practice, that is to diagnosing diseases and prescribing remedies therefore even if requested by patrons to do so

      In cases of accidents and emergencies a pharmacist may, however, render First Aid to the victim

Clandestine Arrangements:

      No pharmacist should enter into any secret arrangements or contract with a physician to offer him any commission or any advantage of any description in return for his favor of patronage by recommending his dispensary or drugstore.

Liaison With Public:
Being a liaison between medical profession and people, a pharmacist should always keep himself abreast with the modern developments in pharmacy and other
allied sciences by regularly reading books, journals, magazines and other periodicals , so that on the one hand he may be in a position to advise the physician on pharmaceutical matters like those of colors, flavors, vehicles and newer forms of administration of medicines, on the other, he may be able to educate the people for maintaining healthy and sanitary conditions of living

       Thus a pharmacist can contribute his share in the nation-building activities of the country

       A pharmacist should at all times endeavour to promote knowledge and contribute his quota in the advancement of learning

       A pharmacist should never disclose any information which he has acquired during his professional activities to any third party or person unless requires by law to do so

       He should never betray the confidence which his patrons repose in him or which he has won by virtue of his eminent character and conduct

Pharmacist in relation to his Profession

v  Professional Vigilance:

It is not only sufficient for a pharmacist to be law-abiding and to deter from doing things derogatory to Society and his profession, but it should be his duty to make others also fulfill the provisions of the pharmaceutical and other laws and regulations

       He should not be afraid of bringing or causing a miscreant to be brought to book, may be a member of his own profession

       Whereas it is obligatory for a pharmacist to extend help and cooperation to a fellow member in his legitimate needs,
scientific, technical or otherwise, he is to be, at the same time, vigilant to weed the undesirable out of the profession and thus help to maintain its fair name and traditions

Law-abiding Citizens:

       A pharmacist engaged in profession has to be an enlightened citizen endowed with a fair knowledge of the land and he should strive to countenance and defend them

       He should be particularly conversant with the enactments pertaining to food, drug, pharmacy, health, sanitation and the like and endeavor to abide by them in every phase of his life

       A pharmacist is a unit whole and his life cannot be divided into compartments

Relationship with Professional Organizations:

In order to inculcate a corporate life in his own professional colleagues, a pharmacist should join and advance the cause of all such organizations, the aims and objects of which are conducive to scientific moral and cultural well-being of pharmacists and at the same time are in no way contrary to the code of pharmaceutical ethics

Decorum and Propriety:
A pharmacist should always refrain from doing all such acts and deeds which are not in consonance with the decorum and propriety of pharmaceutical profession or which are likely to bring discredit or upgrade to the profession or to himself


Ethics may be defined as “the code of moral principles” or as “the science of morals”

Code when practised for a long time by the society results in the development of culture of conscience

The profession of pharmacy, apart from being a career for livelihood, it has inherent in it the attitude of service and sacrifice in the interests of the suffering humanity

A pharmacist in collaboration with medical men and others is charged with the onerous responsibility of safeguarding the health of people

Standards of professional conduct for pharmacy are necessary in the public interests to ensure an efficient pharmaceutical service

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