Mixing Good Drugs and Bad Drugs

It took me a long time to find anything that I wanted to use for my paper. I tried looking up some of the different ethical theories using the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and then using google scholar to look up the articles I found and clicking on its citations. From there I checked the box to search within citations and searched “Marlboro” “Tobacco” and a few other things none of which yielded any results. I decided to give up on checking the citations box and simply searched Google Scholar directly instead. Somewhere along the lines I thought of a new idea for my topic since there are not very many articles surrounding Marlboro, least of all their ethics. I decided it would be cool to examine how/why CVS decided to discontinue selling tobacco products from a deontological stand point.

I ended up finding an article “Mixing Good Drugs and Bad Drugs: Tobacco Sales in Pharmacies”. It discusses the ethical dilemma that Pharmacies and Pharmacists encounter when selling tobacco in pharmacies. Not only has tobacco use been cited as the main avoidable cause of illness and death, but it also lowers the immune system and interferes with many different medications which are also sold at pharmacies. Are pharmacies violating their duty as a health care field that promotes the health of their patients? While the article never directly mentions deontology, many of they points they bring up mimic its ideals. In addition to selling tobacco, 8 out of 10 pharmacies selling tobacco also advertised it.

I liked this article because it really went into depth with figures and tables pertaining to tobacco sales in grocery stores. For example, a survey was taken by pharmacist students in Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in Detroit, MI or University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Pharmacy in
Kansas City, MO. These are some charts with the results:

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This chart really shows what ethical standards the pharmaceutical society believes pharmacies should be held to. From a deontological stand point if 81% of respondents think that selling tobacco products in pharmacy is not ethical and only 5% think that it is ethical, it can be determined that it is a breach of a pharmacies societal duties to sell tobacco.



9 responses to “Mixing Good Drugs and Bad Drugs

  1. The contrast between the statistics about pharmacies selling and pharmacies advertising tobacco products is noteworthy. It would seem that they knew it was wrong (and therefore didn’t advertise) but still reaped the profits of selling.


  2. I am interested to see how ethical and deontologist theories will apply to an inherently unethical business like promoting and selling harmful goods such as tobacco.


  3. Good choice in topic. I’m also curious how the move by CVS will impact its bottom line over the next five years. Will consumers reward the retailer for retracting tobacco products or will CVS lose market share to Walgreens and Rite-Aid? Hopefully they can do well by doing good.


  4. I think it is interesting that even though 88% of the pharmacists do not find it ethical to sell tobacco products in a pharmacy, still 72% of them would be fine working in a pharmacy that sold tobacco.


    • Reminds me of investor concept we talked about earlier in the year where people admitted to investing in companies they disagreed morally with simply because they believed that was how you make money in investing.


  5. I think an interesting angle for this topic that you touched upon is the consequences of successful business v. health of customers. I think it could be argued that these pharmacies are providing customers with a product that they would purchase anyway, and maybe by selling them they are more successful and profitable as a business and have more funds to do positive things such as corporate charity.


    • Certainly there is something to be said for profiting more because you supply a product that they are going to buy anyway. But I think CVS’s decision to ban tobacco products is actually more of an effort to capture non-smokers who maybe hadn’t shopped at CVS as their primary drugstore or pharmacy before. I was just watching an episode of Mad Men where the firm lost their “Lucky Strike” cigarette account, and Don chose to spin it by releasing an article saying that they had been the ones to end business with the company because they didn’t want to advertise such a harmful product. As a result, the American Cancer Society solicited their services. The American Cancer Society could have their advertising done through any number of companies, but they actively sought to work with Don’s firm because they took a moral stand.


  6. It will be interesting to see exactly why CVS decided to stop selling tobacco products. On the surface, it was because selling tobacco went against CVS’s mission statement. But under the surface, I wonder if there were any other underlying reasons.


  7. These statistics are interesting to look at. I agree with most people found it shocking that a large percentage of people find it unethical for pharmacies to sell tobacco, but then a good amount of people continued to say they would work for a pharmacy who sells tobacco. Looking at your comment Taylor, I would say CVS definitely has other underlying reasons for banning tobacco in their stores. I have heard they are looking to expand their in-store clinics in the future, which if successful, would earn them just as much, if not more money than tobacco (and in an ethical way).


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