World news wrapup: 21 May 2020

legal law case justice crime

Floaters could turn US pharmacies into COVID-19 “hotspots;” arrested pharmacist “may have been trying to get out of work” via alleged bomb hoax; UK pharmacy not thrilled with Government’s COVID-19 response

Elyria, Ohio: A pharmacist was arrested on felony charges of making a terroristic threat and inducing panic, after he told his sister there was a bomb threat at his pharmacy.

Nicholas Rashedi texted his sister about the purported threat, and she then contacted the police, report Cleveland 19 News and The Chronicle.

Elyria police said that every officer who was on shift at the time attended the store in response, evacuating the building and searching it thoroughly for 30 minutes.

The officers did not find a bomb and decided that the threat – given there had been no prior threat before Mr Rashedi texted his sister – was a hoax.

Mr Rashedi was arrested and bond set at US$150,000 (AUD$229,025).

Elyria police spokesman Captain William Pelko said that Mr Rashedi had depression “and may have been trying to get out of work”.

Elyria police have alerted the Ohio Pharmacy Board.


United States: ProPublica has investigated how “floater” pharmacists working across multiple sites could spread COVID-19 to colleagues.

Reporter Ava Kofman spoke to one anonymous Walgreens floater working in Texas who has wondered if he made a “terrible” mistake going back to the floater lifestyle.

“When he shows up at a store, he said, he’s not told whether any employees have shown symptoms or tested positive, so he doesn’t know if he’s at risk,” Ms Kofman wrote.

“On two occasions, the Dallas floater said, he only heard from colleagues after he started his shift that they had just been working alongside someone who was self-isolating with COVID-19 symptoms. Because his temporary co-workers had not shown symptoms, they were not advised to quarantine.”

The floater said that he was terrified that he and other pharmacists working in this manner could be spreading COVID-19.

Denis Nash, a professor of epidemiology at CUNY School of Public Health, told ProPublica that “It’s absolutely a concern to move people around where there’s active transmission, some of whom might be susceptible”.

And John Fram, a senior pharmacy technician at a New York City Walgreens, said that using floaters will just “turn pharmacies into hotspots”.

Walgreens and CVS both spoke to ProPublica about measures they were taking to help limit the spread of COVID-19, including contacting people who could be at risk of contracting the novel coronavirus.


UK: Only just over a third of pharmacy professionals in England say they are “somewhat” or “very” confident about the way the Government has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Chemist+Druggist.

In a survey conducted by the UK pharmacy publication, pharmacy workers were asked what they thought of the Government’s response, which has been marred by problems such as pharmacists finding it difficult to source personal protective equipment and an advance funding package in which monies to help pharmacies will have to be repaid down the track.

The survey found that a further 25% of readers were “neither confident nor unconfident” in the Government’s response, 21$ were “somewhat unconfident” and another 16.5% were “very unconfident”.

As for the business support measures introduced by the Government to help the sector manage through the pandemic, 38% felt these were only a good first step, and more should be done.

Another 27% said these measures were a “drop in the bucket” and 23% said it was too early to tell.


Dallas, Texas: Six pharmacy owners and marketers in the Dallas area have been charged in a superseding indictment for their roles in an alleged US$14 million (AUD$21,375,676) kickback and bribe scheme.

The scheme involved compound drug claims to Tricare and the US Department of Labor.

Richard Hall, Scott Schuster, Dustin Rall, George Lock Paret, Johnathan Le and Quintan Cockerell were charged in the Northern District of Texas with varying offences relating to the scheme, alongside two co-defendant marketers, Turner Luke Zeutzius and Michael Ranelle.

According to the superseding indictment, from May 2014 to September 2016, Hall, Schuster, Rall, Paret, Le and their co-conspirators allegedly engaged in a scheme to pay kickbacks and bribes for the referral of TRICARE and DOL beneficiaries to obtain expensive compound drugs.  Hall, Shuster and Rall were co-owners of Rxpress Pharmacy and Xpress Compounding pharmacies.

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