Thurgoona pharmacist disappointed at being dropped by Soul Pattinson

Simon Horsfall pictured with the medication when The Border Mail first reported on the issue in 2005.
Simon Horsfall pictured with the medication when The Border Mail first reported on the issue in 2005.

A THURGOONA pharmacist has outlined his disappointment after his decision not to sell the pill for birth control lead to parent company Soul Pattinson dropping his pharmacy as a franchise.

Soul Pattinson released a statement late yesterday saying it had ended its association with the Thurgoona pharmacy and did not support the chemist’s stance on contraceptive products.

‘‘We respect that the use of contraceptive products is a matter of personal choice,’’ it said.

‘‘The pharmacist concerned has acknowledged the likelihood that some people may assume that the views expressed are reflective of Soul Pattinson’s position on this issue. Consequently it has been agreed that he will no longer be associated with the Soul Pattinson brand.’’

Mr Horsfall told The Border Mail this morning that he had been surprised by the decision. 

"'I was little disappointed. I didn't realise the relationship was so fragile," he said. 

Mr Horsfall's decision has been well-known in the local community for many years. 

It received a mixture of community outrage and admiration when The Border Mail first reported on the issue in 2005.

But the issue was reignited and gained national attention yesterday after a local resident posted a photo on Facebook of the note Mr Horsfall was inserting into packets of the pill outlining his decision.

The Border Mail received more than 100 angry comments while The Age and 3AW radio, in Melbourne, also debated the issue.

Mr Horsfall said the notes had been slipped into pill packets for 12 years. 

''It's about integrity - if you say one thing and do something else, that is hypocrisy. We practise what we preach.''

The note reads: ''If your primary reason for taking this medicine is contraceptive then it would be appreciated, that in the future, you could respect our views and have your OCP prescriptions filled elsewhere."

The pharmacy also refuses to stock condoms and the morning-after pill.

Mr Horsfall said the nearest pharmacy was three kilometres away and there were a dozen pharmacies in Albury.

Mulqueeny Pharmacy, which has stores in Melbourne's Windsor and in Swanston Street, also refuses to stock the morning-after pill but sells the oral contraceptive pill and condoms. Pharmacy proprietor Stephen Mulqueeny, a practising Catholic, said he refused to dispense the emergency contraception because his priest advised him against it.

Dr Sally Cockburn, better known in the media as Dr Feelgood, said one of her patients was refused access to the morning-after pill at the late-night Windsor pharmacy and was not told about the 72-hour grace period. She said the woman fell pregnant and had to have an abortion.

She called on more pharmacies to disclose their stance on reproductive services and said those that did should not be vilified.

''I worry about when there is only one pharmacy in a rural area. It is up to the authorities to ensure women have access to a full range of reproductive services,'' she said.

Pharmacy Guild of Australia communications director Greg Turnbull said while there were ethical requirements for pharmacists to dispense medicine and put patients' welfare first, ''pharmacists are human beings who are entitled to religious and cultural beliefs''.