Christian Conservative Pharmacy Closes Due to Lack of Customers

Divine Mercy Care Pharmacy in Fairfax, VA closed down last month because of a lack of customers.

It didn’t help that there were two other pharmacies within walking distance. But why are those pharmacies still in business while this one is closing its doors?

Well… check out what the Christian pharmacy didn’t sell, courtesy of Petula Dvorak at the Washington Post:

… no birth control pills, no condoms, no porn, no tobacco and even no makeup…

It makes little sense to make another stop to fill a prescription across the street for moral reasons, especially considering that Kmart is probably a regular shopping place for even the most devout Christians…

“The biggest negative was that convenience factor,” [Divine Mercy Care president John T.] Bruchalski said.

So what’s the right reaction? Do we laugh because they had to shut down?

No. But we can spread the message that health providers shouldn’t decide what services they provide based on their religious preferences. Not because of “conscience clauses,” but because it’s just bad for business.

Ron Lindsay also makes a very good point:

Allowing health care workers to pick and choose among the services they will provide may not only set a dangerous precedent… but it also could result in denial of access to needed health care. In the instance of the Virginia pharmacy, there were obviously competing pharmacies available to provide the services patients desired. That may not be true in rural, isolated communities.

There are places where pharmacies like this one are the only available option. How scary is that?

In the meantime, though, I’m not shedding any tears over the loss of this particular business.

  • http://sunnyskeptic.wordpress.com Crystal D.

    Sounds like they got what they deserved… Good for them and for us in so many ways.

  • http://www.racjonalista.pl/kk.php/s,3134 Ellie

    Oh I am soooo interested what would they do with a case like me. As it happens, I one of my illnesses (serious, chronic) is treated mainly by taking birth control pills. What is needed is the right amount of hormones, not available elswhere. Well, if I don’t take them it aggravates the risk of heart diseases, lots of organ failures and other serious conditions that may shorten my life span or even cause death. Plus a wole lot of other, less threatening, but much more inconvenient problems.
    Oh, darn. I should probably offer my life to god, right? :]

  • Heidi

    Aw, man. I already laughed.

    Like Ellie, I also require hormones for non birth-control reasons. I recently switched from pills to a Mirena IUD, though, so I guess a holy pharmacy doesn’t have a say in that.

  • plutosdad

    It’s not just christian but any business that tries to operate under some extreme “ethical” principles fails. They are not trying to run a business but instead trying to make a statement. It’s a business first, and if you don’t realize that, the guy next door who does will drive you out.

    This is why I am not very supportive of anti-discrimination for the same reason. You can open a business and proudly discriminate, and if you do I will open a business right next to you and advertise that I don’t. Not only do I have a larger pool of potential customers, I have the moral high road which I might use in advertising (even most Christians don’t like busybody moralists) and finally I am operating to advance my business and doing what it takes to succeed while you are operating to discriminate and success is secondary.

    This is why Jim Crow “LAWS” had to be passed to force businesses to discriminate: most business owners like green more than they liked white.

    Linsay’s point is horrible: if you want more competition, then remove the barriers to competition. The states with the most regulation to force insurance to “do the right thing” also have the least number of insurers, several states have only ONE insurance company operating! It is so expensive the others left, and the few left have what amounts to a monopoly, and a monopoly never, ever, cares about the customer. Regulation rarely protects small business and consumers, instead it is written to protect the largest businesses from competition that would force them to serve customers.

    This story is not a call for more regulation to force people do to anything, but the opposite, it is a call for less and to remove barriers to entry.

  • Michael

    Oh, we can still laugh.

    I laughed at the creepy idea of what kind of community they thought they lived in. They must have thought that people would ‘flock’ to their righteous pharmacy. Regardless of how many fundamentalists were around, ‘flocking’ turned out to be too much of a bother.

    They thought they had a lot of dedicated friends in their community, but got left high and dry. I’ll admit that’s kind of a cruel thing to laugh at. It’s still funny.

  • Skunque

    Jeebus, that’s like 20 minutes drive from my house. I had no idea it even existed. Not surprised it was unpopular enough to close, Northern VA is the reason this state’s gone “blue” in most of the past elections…and Fairfax is one of the bluer (but not bluest) parts.

    Oh yes, and hahahahaha…no one can tell me to not laugh about it.

  • Claudia

    Well, count me as not at all sad about this, but I will say in their favor that they did the right thing in accordance to their principles. I’m perfectly fine with them offering a privately funded option that is in line with their beliefs (as ridiculous as I find the beliefs themselves). Fine by me, even though it turns out that a lot more people are willing to pay lip service to those beliefs than willing to actually live by them, or at least there aren’t enough true believers for a customer base.

    Better that than the fundies who decide that they’re going to work at a normal pharmacy and then berate or refuse shy teenagers condoms or desperate women. Like a vegetarian refusing to make you a steak at grill.

  • http://reanhouse.blogspot.com Sarah

    Hhhmmm, I wonder how many of the customers who avoided them were conservative christians who wanted a convenient place to pick up their birth control prescriptions?

    I agree with Claudia ^ although I do believe that if you’re going to go into the health care field as a pharmacist, nurse, doctor or whatever you are obliged to provide full service regardless of your personal beliefs. If you don’t you’re not only betraying your profession, you’re endangering lives.

    I’m glad that there was competition available nearby so that these guys couldn’t inflict their wrath in a vacuum.

    And on a completely unrelated note. Why the heck do they always feel compelled to give their businesses the most obviously christian names available? What the heck is wrong with “Bob’s Pharmacy”? Divine Mercy indeed!

  • Miko

    Things worked exactly how they were supposed to work. The business made a bad decision and the market punished them. This result would have been guaranteed under a free market. We don’t have a free market, so really we got lucky this time around.

    Lindsay has it completely backward, though. A law requiring pharmacies to have good business sense wouldn’t work at all. Take the alleged communities with only a faith-limited pharmacy. As the recent news with the Catholic charities in DC, etc. shows, if you pass a law requiring that pharmacy to stock things that the owner doesn’t want to stock, chances are you end up with zero pharmacies in that area. The solution is to remove the regulations that are stopping other pharmacies from opening in that area (note that such regulations, like all regulations, are really just a way of maintaining the current oligarchical business model and have nothing to do with patient health, worker safety, etc., no matter what their name suggests). Once competing pharmacies open, the bad one will go out of business and everyone rejoices.

  • bob

    Maybe they should have tried a clever slogan or advertising jingle.

  • http://www.banalleakage.com martymankins

    Sad to see a local business close their doors, but they obviously picked their religious beliefs over the needs of their customers. That’s their choice. And the customers exercised their choice by going elsewhere.

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff P

    @bob

    “I love butt drugs!”

  • littlejohn

    Like Ellie, I have a condition that requires one of the items they were refusing to sell. I need porn.
    Seriously, do these people not realize that refusing to sell condoms and birth control pills will predictably increase the need for abortions?
    Are they really too stupid to put two and two together? I know. Stupid question.

  • http://rubyleigh.blogspot.com Ruby Leigh

    So why does this model fail and and Christian Book Stores everywhere have sucess… (even when near by other book stores). I think it’s because they are not offering anything extra. A book store offers Christian books that can not otherwise be found at Barnes and Noble or BORDERS. A “christian” pharmacy is only limiting what you can get…. I mean no ones going to go and say gee I really need some christian advil. There is no such thing. The only Christians it serves directly are the Pharmacists and their self-righteous idealology.

  • Chas

    As implied by a couple of earlier posts, birth control pills are NOT just prescribed for contraception. My wife’s endometriosis got so bad before her hysterectomy that her doctor was afraid she would literally “bleed out” and die if she continued having a period. To protect her life she had to chemically stop her period altogether until she could have surgery. A pharmacist who can’t dispense legally prescribed drugs should consider a career change.

  • Thegoodman

    This is why I don’t attend church. It is more convenient and cheaper.

    1. I get to sleep in on Sundays.
    2. I make 10% more than I would if I went to church.

    God Bless the Free Market Economy!

  • stephanie

    I am not at all sad this place closed down.
    But that pharmacy is a private health care provider, not a publicly funded one. If they choose not to sell these products- well, sucks to be them when people go elsewhere. However, it doesn’t set a dangerous precedent when they ‘pick and choose among the services they provide.’ It sets a dangerous precedent to expect private companies to conform to outside orders.
    Plus, in an age of mail order pharmacy, most of these rural areas have an option- and from spending time in just such an area, I know mail order is always FTW.

  • Catherine

    I live literally 10 minutes from this shopping center and until reading the full Washington Post article had no idea this place even existed. I just don’t see much of a demand for a place like that here in Northern VA. The Walgreens in Herndon (about 15 minutes away) sells “personal massagers” aka vibrators in plain sight and no one has ever complained that I know of. Now granted, we have our share of religious zealotry here but like an earlier poster commented, it is a relatively liberal part of a traditionally conservative state

  • Josha

    In my city there is a Christian dry cleaners called, wait for it, ‘Christian Dry Cleaners’. I’m not sure why I should care if they’re Christian or not. Maybe holy water works miracles on stains. It doesn’t matter since I take my business to the local Atheist Complex so I don’t have to mix with any believin’ folk.

  • bernerbits

    Seriously, do these people not realize that refusing to sell condoms and birth control pills will predictably increase the need for abortions?

    There is a strong belief among the far-right that birth control pills actually cause abortions. The evidence pro-lifers cite is the weakening of the endometrium, which they claim reduces the chance of successful implantation. Ergo selling birth control = causing abortions.

  • Kevin Sullivan

    Any business that promotes themselves in regards to what they DON’T sell is doomed to failure. If I have a choice between two grocery stores and one of them advertises “Hey! We don’t sell Fritos!” well… I’m going to the place that sells Fritos.

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ WMDKitty

    I’m laughing at these fools. Karma, it’s a beautiful thing!

  • Killer Bee

    Would Christians or others be interested in a movie theater that bleeped out the profanity and edited out sex scenes? That could be another opportunity for Bruchalski to mix his faith with his business acumen.

  • Siamang

    Why were they selling ANY medicines? Surely prayer heals all, and medicine is the work of those debbil scientists.

  • ed42

    Miko (and others) has it correct – let the free market eliminate incorrect business decisions.

  • xxldave

    Whenever I see a fish or some other religious symbolism on a business front or yellow page ad I just move on. Been burned too many times by the “ethical” businessman!

  • Chal

    This is why I am not very supportive of anti-discrimination for the same reason. You can open a business and proudly discriminate, and if you do I will open a business right next to you and advertise that I don’t. Not only do I have a larger pool of potential customers, I have the moral high road which I might use in advertising (even most Christians don’t like busybody moralists) and finally I am operating to advance my business and doing what it takes to succeed while you are operating to discriminate and success is secondary.

    This is why Jim Crow “LAWS” had to be passed to force businesses to discriminate: most business owners like green more than they liked white.

    Except that those discriminated against don’t typically have a lot of economic power, and in a racist enough environment, the members of the majority will only patronise the exclusive shop.

    You can say that you have the moral high ground, but that’s exactly what the other store will be saying too, and theirs is the view that will agree with those that have the economic power. You can say that you’re putting business first and morality second, but in that kind of environment, discrimination is how business works, and going against that is putting morality ahead of business.

    The problem is that you don’t necessarily have the larger pool of customers. You don’t have majority + minority, you have minority + majority who are willing to shop where the minority shops. Whether or not this is larger than the chunk of the majority that is willing to shop at the majority-only shop is not guaranteed.

    The invisible hand of the market is not a cure-all by any means.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Beth

    I, too, am glad that the pharmacy has closed. Serves them right in terms of both being a bad business decision and a totally inappropriate attempt to deny customers safe, legal, and often much-needed items and services.

    @ Jeff, I happen to know of a place called Butt’s Drugs. It’s in Corydon, Indiana. (Maybe that was part of the jingle link you responded to? I didn’t get to see it.)

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverFrog

    If g0d wanted them to stay open he would have sent them customers. The fact that they didn’t get customers means that g0d hates them, is testing them or, just maybe, doesn’t exist.

  • Carlie

    I laughed.

    But that pharmacy is a private health care provider, not a publicly funded one. If they choose not to sell these products- well, sucks to be them when people go elsewhere. However, it doesn’t set a dangerous precedent when they ‘pick and choose among the services they provide.’

    I don’t agree with this in the specific case of pharmacies, because they are so tightly regulated by the government. No, just anybody can’t go and start selling drugs to compete. The federal government has decided that selling drugs is a serious business that needs to be heavily regulated, and one must jump through an awful lot of hoops in order to be able to do it. In that sense, pharmacies do have a specific public trust that is not found with most other consumer products. If one has been entrusted by the government to serve the health needs of customers, then one has the obligation to serve the health needs of all one’s customers.

  • kevon45uk

    “no porn, no tobacco”

    No wonder you guys have conflicts about God. Pharmacies in the UK sell cough sweets and painkillers. Porn and cigs in Boots? It would never happen. You buy porn and cigs in the offy. Try not to mix carnal pleasure with prescription drugs. Always been my rule.

  • Edmond

    Why can’t we laugh? I did, too.

  • muggle

    That was good for a laugh.

    But overall the situation with these nutcakes who are pharmacists not to distribute drugs but to force god rules on people is not. To leave it to the free market is not really honest and only doable in areas where there is competition. Not in small towns where they’re the only game in town, etc. Not to mention, a thing like pharmacy should be closely regulated since people’s lives are at stake.

    No, the “free” market is not the solution. People too religious to fill certain scripts finding a career more suitable to their personality is.


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