World news wrapup: 2 September 2021

Fed-up US pharmacist calls for change, not pizza; UK “hub and spoke” competition call; Ivermectin use going wrong across US

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma: A community pharmacist has told Oklahoma’s News on 6 that pharmacy workers are facing burnout thanks to the COVID-19 crisis.

Dr Bled Tanoe has begun a social media campaign – #PizzaIsNotWorking – to highlight their plight and call for retail pharmacy employers to create a culture which works for their employees, rather than “rewarding” them for their work during the pandemic with pizzas.

Her Facebook post provides a six-point list of proposed measures.

These include setting boundaries – such as those expected in a GP surgery, whereas pharmacists in retail settings are frequently abused – and “pay up and retain,” asking employers to remunerate pharmacists more appropriately for their work.

She also asks them to “give the support and I don’t mean pizza,” but calls for workable staffing ratios instead. She also asked for employers to remove unnecessary tasks, and says “Good leaders make good employees”.

“One of their biggest fears is I am going to make a mistake and it is going to cost someone’s life. Someone is going to make a mistake and it will cost someone’s life or their family’s life.

“It is no longer about me. I am a danger to the public and I have to retrieve myself,” Dr Tanoe told News on 6.

“Something is going to have to change. Because people are tired, people are leaving, people are suffering. And if pharmacists are retail pharmacists and technicians are not at the front of everything, who is going to fill your prescription?”


UK: Chemist+Druggist reports that the National Pharmacy Association is calling on the Competitions and Market Authority – the UK’s competition watchdog – to “look into” the controversial hub-and-spoke dispensing model.

The model, which has seen robust criticism for years from UK stakeholders, is now available to all community pharmacies following a February legislative change.

The change also means that large pharmacy groups, which have automated hubs for dispensing, will have the ability to charge independent pharmacies and those belonging to smaller groups for “prescription assembly services”.

“If the government believes that hub-and-spoke dispensing is the future for pharmacy, it must do more to allow independents to engage with the model on a level playing field and to prevent unintended consequences,” said NPA vice chair Nick Kaye.

“This includes ensuring that pharmacies that do not have access to hub services, or choose not to use hub services, are not disadvantaged.”

He said the watchdog was the “obvious” place to begin ensuring a fair environment for these pharmacies.


US: Pharmacists are reporting a spike in scripts for Ivermectin, to more than 88,000 a week – and some pharmacies are now experiencing shortages.

The New York Times’ Emma Goldberg reports that according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention figures, around 3,600 Ivermectin scripts would be written each week – jumping to more than 88,000 in mid-August this year.

She spoke to Idaho pharmacist Travis Walthall, who said that while he usually dispensed two or three scripts for the medicine a year, he has filled more than 20 during summer 2021 – in a town of about 20,000 people.

“I’m like, gosh, this is horrible,” Mr Walthall said, concerned about people’s willingness to take the medicine, which is not approved for the treatment of COVID-19.

Ms Goldberg also reports that CDC researchers are concerned about overdose numbers. Calls to poison control centres about exposure to the medicine have multiplied by a factor of five over the month of July 2021, she writes.

Dr Shawn Varney, a South Texas toxicologist and medical director at a poisons centre, said most of the recent calls to his centre have involved people who used a veterinary product to try to prevent or treat the novel coronavirus.

“I plead with people to stop using ivermectin and get the vaccine because it’s the best protection we have at this point,” he said. “Everything else is risk after risk.”


Manapparai, India: The Times of India has reported on pharmacist R Chandrasekaran, who has helped more than 10,000 disadvantaged people access cataract surgery.

Mr Chandrasekaran told the Times that he wanted to continue the activities of his mentor, Dr V N Lakshminarayanan, a doctor who had a reputation for treating impoverished villagers without charge.

He said that after his mentor died in 1994, he continued the legacy by organising eye screening camps in the Manapparai, Tamil Nadu area.

With the support of Aravind Eye Hospitals, he has run the camps yearly each May, but he now plans to take them on every month.

“We publicise the eye screening camps in villages through public announcement in areas where people have limited health awareness,” the pharmacist said.

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