World news wrapup: 21 September 2017

The Van Velden Pharmacy department at Tzaneen Dam.
The Van Velden Pharmacy department at Tzaneen Dam.

Pharmacist faces life in jail over meningitis outbreak; pharmacy owner killed over 15¢; compounding trouble in LA

Boston, Massachusetts: Pharmacist Glenn A Chin, the supervisory pharmacist from the compounding pharmacy at the centre of the deadly 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak, has faced court in Boston.

The outbreak related to shipments of preservative-free methylprednisolone acetate (MPA) manufactured in unsafe conditions at the New England Compounding Center, which is now closed.

At least 64 people died (numbers were later revised upwards by federal prosecutors to 76) and more than 700 were made ill by the outbreak.

Mr Chin is facing life in prison if convicted of a number of charges of second-degree murder. Further charges against him include conspiracy and mail fraud.

In June 2017, president of the pharmacy Barry Cadden was found not guilty of second-degree murder but was jailed for nine years after being found guilty of 57 charges including mail fraud and racketeering.

According to ABC News, Mr Chin’s attorney has concerns that his client may face harsher treatment than Mr Cadden because “he was doing the work in the clean room”.

He says he plans to argue that Mr Chin was a “puppet” for Mr Cadden.


Dhaka, Bangladesh: An argument over the cost of a drug has cost a Bangladeshi pharmacy owner his life.

Abdul Awal got into an “altercation” with his 20-year-old employee, Fakhrul, after the employer sold a medicine for Tk110 (AUD$1.68) instead of Tk120 (AUD$1.83).

This resulted in Fakhrul attacking Mr Awal with a pair of scissors, the Star Online reports.

Mr Awal was taken to hospital and pronounced dead, while Fakhrul was caught by bystanders and delivered to local police.


Letaba, South Africa: Pharmacists are encouraging South Africans to vaccinate as part of the profession’s Pharmacy Month awareness-raising efforts.

Community service pharmacist Lebogang Ramapuputla told the Letaba Herald that the aim was “to raise awareness about the importance of vaccination in all stages of life; from birth, teenage, adult life”.

Ms Ramapuputla organised a Fun Walk for the Van Velden Pharmacy Department’s team, from the hospital to Tzaneen Dam. The pharmacists were decked out in bright pink to celebrate the month, and they intend to wear the shirts each Friday during September to highlight the vaccination message.

World Pharmacist Day, marked worldwide, will take place on 25 September.


Los Angeles, California: At least 350 bags of medicine including unsafe drugs were delivered to patients of the University of California, Los Angeles health system, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Reporter Kim Christensen writes that the discovery was made in October last year by a state pharmacy inspector, who found more than 1000 IV bags of sterile drugs had been made with expired and other potentially dangerous ingredients.

It is not known whether any patients were harmed by the drugs, and UCLA “quietly” closed the pharmacy days after the inspection, the Times reports. Its pharmacist-in-charge had resigned from his job and inactivated his pharmacy licence.

Now, the local Pharmacy Board has filed a formal action calling for disciplinary action against the former pharmacist-in-charge, as well as the UCLA Medical Center Pharmaceutical Technology, an off-campus facility.

The Board alleges that the pharmacy did not have the correct licensing in place, that it used expired medications when preparing the bags, and that it failed to meet quality and product testing standards.

UCLA confirmed to the Times that it closed the pharmacy but did not answer any of its questions.

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