Bioethics Blogs

American Pharmacists Association Votes to Discourage Pharmacists from Participating in Executions

March 30, 2015, the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) House of Delegates
– the group’s representative assembly – adopted a policy discouraging
pharmacists from participating in executions.
APhA policy is only one sentence long: “
The American
Pharmacists Association discourages pharmacist participation in executions on
the basis that such activities are fundamentally contrary to the role of
pharmacists as providers of health care.”

In defending the new policy, APhA
Executive Vice President and CEO, Thomas E. Menighan, BSPharm, MBA, ScD (Hon),
FAPhA, stated, “Pharmacists are health care providers and pharmacist
participation in executions conflicts with the profession’s role on the patient
health care team. This new policy aligns the APhA with the execution policies
of other major health care associations including the American Medical
Association, the American Nurses Association, and the American Board of

However, one of the headlines used
in an article that appeared on a trade press Web site American Pharmacy News announcing the new policy went further than
the policy itself: “APhA: Pharmacists Shouldn’t Assist with Criminal
” Also,
in a subheading used by another trade journal Internet site, the same
interpretation is extended more: “In a newly adopted policy, the American
Pharmacists Association says that participating in the creation of chemicals
used in lethal injections is contrary to the role pharmacists play as
healthcare providers.” Clearly,
one of the indirect messages circulating as a result of the policy is that the
APhA opposes state execution by lethal injection and that pharmacists should
not be involved in any way.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.