World News Wrapup: 21 December 2017

Mystery benefactor donates cash for meds; pay and stress both up in the US; Apple opposes pharmacy’s trademark

Mount Zion, Illinois: The Sav-Mor Pharmacy in Mount Zion has a secret benefactor who has donated US$3,500 (AUD$4,568) for those having trouble paying for their medications.

The Herald&Review reports that the man, who prefers to be known as “Secret Santa,” also donated US$1,000 (AUD$1305) in 2016.

Morgan Kelly, director of sales and marketing for Sav-Mor, says that the pharmacist and technician at the pharmacy, who are aware of which patients have difficulty paying for their medicines, choose who will benefit from Secret Santa’s generosity.

“They need their prescriptions, and we know that they can’t pay so we don’t want them to go without,” Ms Kelly said.

The pharmacy offers charge accounts to some of these patients so that they can still access medicines when cash is tight, and in 2016 the donation helped pay some of these account debts.

Ms Kelly said that recipients of Secret Santa’s generosity were surprised and grateful.

“They were astonished that someone has that kind of a heart to donate their money and their funds to help them out at this time,” she said. “It’s their kind of Christmas miracle.”


US: Pay is up, but so is stress, according to Drug Topics’ 2017 Salary Survey.

While their pay rises weren’t very big, more than half of US pharmacists said that they received a raise this year – 86.7% of them a raise of 3% or less.

The magazine reports that “two out of three respondents said their workload has increased over the past year”.

Around two-thirds – 66.14% – of pharmacists said their stress levels at work went up, with “too much to do and not enough time to get it all done,” whether the setting is a large chain pharmacy or a smaller independent.

One pharmacist employed at a big-box told Drug Topics that the setting was a “pressure cooker”.

“Pharmacy is the highest stress job out there,” he said. “You have pressures from your customers, pressures from corporate, pressures from payers, pressures from every direction. Even the staff pressures you.

“Like most pharmacists, if I had known before I started pharmacy school what I know now, I would not do it again.”


Roswell, Georgia: Apple has moved to stop a Georgia-based pharmacy from using a trademark which features the word “Rx” inside the outline of an apple.

The Red Apple Interactive Pharmacy, based out of Roswell, Georgia, says its mission is to “Innovate and Create the Next Generation of America’s retail pharmacies based on In-Store Customer Experiences!”

It applied for the trademark in December 2016 and began using it in June 2017.

But Apple has file an opposition with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, reports World Intellectual Property Review, as the technology giant believes the red-apple logo might “cause a likelihood of confusion and dilution by blurring”.

The pharmacy has until late January 2018 to respond to the opposition.


Nottinghamshire, UK: Electronic prescription services (EPS) need to be updated so that they can “communicate clinical urgency,” according to a UK coroner.

Assistant coroner for Nottinghamshire Heidi Connor conducted a report into the death of 83-year-old Douglas Hodges, who was prescribed antibiotics by his GP, says Chemist + Druggist.

The GP expected the script, which was issued via EPS, to be dispensed and the medicine delivered to Professor Hodges’ home by Well Pharmacy that day or the next – but while the pharmacy downloaded the script, the paper “token” was either mislaid or accidentally disposed of. Because of this, the medicine was never dispensed and Prof Hodges died in hospital from multiple organ failure and systemic sepsis.

While Ms Connor said that the outcome would have likely been the same regardless of whether Prof Hodges received his medicine, she highlighted that “a missed prescription could create a risk of future death in a different case”.

She told NHS Digital that as it stands, there is “no way of communicating clinical urgency between prescriber and pharmacy staff at the time the prescription is downloaded” and called for change.

Well Pharmacy says it is taking the matter seriously and is already taking five steps to minimise such risk in the future.

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