World news wrapup: 20 August 2020

Backlash as Amazon enters pharmacy in India; US pharmacist sentenced after tampering with and stealing narcotic infusions; Bahamas pharmacist questions curbside pharmacy service

Bengalaru, India: Outraged at the entry of Amazon into the Indian online pharmacy market, the All India Organization of Chemists and Druggists has called the move illegal.

According to the ED Times, a spokesperson for Amazon India said that, “As a part of our commitment to fulfilling the needs of customers, we are launching Amazon Pharmacy in Bengaluru allowing customers to order prescription-based medication in addition to over-the-counter medicines, basic health devices and Ayurveda medication from certified sellers. This is particularly relevant in present times as it will help customers meet their essential needs while staying safe at home”.

But the News Minute reports that the AIOCD has now written to Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos and India Country Manager Amit Agarwal to protest the move.

It says that e-pharmacies are illegal and not recognised by law.

It says that under the relevant legislation an original script must be presented for each prescription medicine dispensed, which needs to take place at a licensed premises – which means online pharmacies cannot comply.

It also says that home delivery is also illegal and has only been allowed this year because of COVID-19, and is restricted to neighbourhood pharmacies.


Hartford, Connecticut: A pharmacist who tampered with and stole infusion narcotics has been sentenced to 51 months in federal prison.

Carl Mancini was sentenced to this period plus three years of supervised release after he tampered with and stole the medicines while employed as a pharmacist for a Connecticut company that prepared home or hospice care intravenous infusions for a variety of medical conditions, including pain management.

As part of Mr Mancini’s duties, he was responsible for formulating infusions of the correct concentration for specific patients following their prescriber’s orders.

But between around January and June 2019, Mr Mancini “accessed a secure area of his workplace and took vials of narcotics, including hydromorphone hydrochloride and morphine sulfate pentahydrate, that were intended to be used to formulate infusion for patients,” the US Attorney’s Office, District of Connecticut, said in a statement.

“He used a syringe to withdraw the narcotics from the vials and reinjected saline into the vial so that it would appear as if the narcotics were not missing. 

“In order to hide his tampering, Mancini used specialized crimping tools to reseal the vials. He then returned the vials to the secure area at his workplace.

“Mancini tampered with dozens of vials through this scheme. Laboratory testing of a sample of vials Mancini tampered with revealed that virtually all of the active drug had been removed and replaced with saline.”

In December 2019, after an investigation also revealed previous charges and a conviction for writing scripts for himself in 2007, Mr Mancini pleaded guilty to one count of tampering with a consumer product.


Nassau, Bahamas: One pharmacist is speaking out against the curbside service introduced to help limit the spread of COVID-19, saying it has caused problems with privacy.

The Tribune reports that Johnathan Frazer, head pharmacist at the People’s Pharmacy, says the service is “too hectic,” though he has not seen reduced sales volume as a result.

“This is an inconvenience to the customer because they don’t have that privacy any more. There is no privacy, but we try to give them as much privacy when we go outside to them, but everybody is listening to what is being said,” Mr Frazer said.

“The Bahamas Pharmaceutical Association (BPA) was trying to get the emergency powers that be to make some amendment to that, and find some other way, some other option to deal with our customers on the outside. But they said that the competent authority is still toying with the idea and they are still thinking about it.

“I can work with it, it is really hectic and stressful for us, and the customer has no privacy.”


San Francisco, California: The San Francisco Examiner has reported on national class action lawsuits which were filed this month against large US pharmacy chains after they allegedly refused to dispense legitimate prescriptions for chronic pain patients.

Susan Smith, one of these patients, filed a class action lawsuit in the US District Court in San Francisco against Walgreens and Costco, on behalf of herself and other allegedly affected patients.

She said that the pharmacies were being discriminatory and refused to fill legal scripts for opioids.

“After being harassed by pharmacists [and] pharmacy staff for a number of years — being laughed at, being called names in front of my child — I really couldn’t take it anymore,” Ms Smith, who was prescribed morphine to help manage pain suffered after head trauma, resultant epilepsy, injuries from a resultant car accident, and migraines after the brain surgery which followed, told the Examiner.

“Due to the opioid epidemic, they see all chronic pain patients as criminals,” Ms Smith said. “They think that we’re all in there as drug seekers.”

Walgreens declined to comment and Costco did not respond to the Examiner in time for the story’s publication.

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