THURGOONA PHARMACIST: Soul Pattinson's stance was no bitter pill to swallow

Thurgoona pharmacist Simon Horsfall. Picture: TARA GOONAN
Thurgoona pharmacist Simon Horsfall. Picture: TARA GOONAN

A THURGOONA pharmacist says Soul Pattinson knew he would not dispense the birth control pill for contraceptive purposes when they entered into an agreement with him four years ago.

Yesterday, the company cut ties with pharmacist Simon Horsfall after a national storm of protest against the Thurgoona business which began earlier this week when a customer posted a photo on social media of a letter contained in a contraceptive pill packet.

It was a backlash that even Prime Minister Tony Abbott weighed in on yesterday when asked his opinion on Fairfax Radio.

“That would certainly strike me as highly unusual behaviour,” Mr Abbott said.

“I think pharmacists should act professionally.”

The generic letter from Mr Horsfall asked customers to shop elsewhere if they wished to purchase the pill as contraception.

Mr Horsfall, who has been trading as a chemist for 12 years in Thurgoona, said Soul Pattinson had known since he joined the franchise in 2010 that he was placing letters inside pill packets and that he would not stock condoms.

He said the company’s decision yesterday, which he believed came about as a result of public pressure, was disappointing.

“At that point (in 2010) they were happy to take on a new pharmacy,” he said.

“I am disappointed and a little surprised.”

Mr Horsfall said he would seek to join another buying group and become independent. He had already received a number of offers.

A Soul Pattinson spokeswoman said the company would not add to the statement it released yesterday that said Mr Horsfall’s practices were not reflective of its views.

“Consequently it has been agreed that he will not longer be associated with the Soul Pattinson brand,” the statement said.

Mr Horsfall said he was given a choice to change his practices or break away from the company.

“It would have been totally hypocritical of me to cave into something just for the money,” he said.

“If you don’t act in accordance with what you believe, that’s hypocrisy,” he said.

A Thurgoona resident and regular customer, Mat Green, said he would now start a petition to send to Soul Pattinson headquarters to demonstrate the support that the chemist has in the neighbourhood.

Mr Green said his wife had used the contraceptive pill but Mr Horsfall had the right to sell what he wanted at his pharmacy.

“Everyone has their own beliefs, isn’t that your right as a human?” Mr Green said.

“The petition is to show what support they do have rather than a few social media comments from people who don’t live here.

“There’s another pharmacy four kilometres down the road anyway.”