World news wrapup: 23 April 2020

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Pharmacist arrested over alleged Molotov cocktail firebombing plot; rugby player suspended after dispensing error; England expands COVID-19 testing

Virginia, US: Nebraska pharmacist Hyrum T. Wilson has been arrested and charged over his alleged role in a plot to firebomb a rival pharmacy.

Earlier this month William Burgamy, who according to prosecutors was running a darknet business supplying diverted medicines including oxycodone, was arrested over the plan, which involved taking out a rival Nebraska pharmacy with Molotov cocktails.

Prosecutors say that Mr Wilson was illegally selling prescription opioids from the Hyrum’s Family Value Pharmacy in Auburn, Nebraska, but was having difficulty keeping up with demand.

He and Mr Burgamy are alleged to have plotted to steal opioids from the other Auburn pharmacy, and then destroy it in order to eliminate it as competition.

According to court documents, Hyrum T. Wilson, 41, of Auburn, told an alleged co-conspirator: “This is the last shipment he will get from me as long as the other pharmacy is still standing.”

Mr Wilson and Mr Burgamy allegedly referred to their plan as “Operation Firewood”.

Mr Wilson has now been charged with is conspiracy to use fire and explosives, conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, and a firearms-related offense. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of life in prison.


Munster, Ireland: A mixup at a pharmacy has seen Irish rugby player James Cronin suspended for a month.

Mr Cronin, who plays for Munster Rugby, was randomly selected for an in-competition anti-doping test in November 2019, where he tested positive for prednisolone and prednisone, European Professional Club Rugby said in a statement. These are banned substances under Section 9 of the 2019 WADA Prohibited List.

Mr Cronin did not have a Therapeutic Use Exemption permitting the use of prednisolone and prednisone.

After fully cooperating with an investigation, Mr Cronin was ruled ineligible for a period between 15 April 2020 and 16 May 2020.

Before the match, he had been unwell and was prescribed antibiotics.

“However, the pharmacy dispensed medication to him which was intended for another customer,” EPCR said.

“The Judicial Officer accepted evidence that the banned substances in the player’s sample were due to a dispensing error by the pharmacy and that the anti-doping violation was entirely unintentional.

“Although the Judicial Officer found that there was no significant fault on behalf of the player, and that there were clear and compelling mitigating factors, he determined that the player had to bear some responsibility for what was in his sample.”


St Lucia: Community pharmacist and Vice President of the Pharmaceutical Association of St Lucia Troy D Louis has penned an opinion piece in The Voice observing that pharmacists are “forgotten frontliners” in the Caribbean nation and elsewhere.

“I recently came across two articles, one out of the United States of America and the other from Canada,” he wrote. “This shed light on a group of essential workers who have had to fight through barriers to get the recognition that is obvious yet not bestowed.

“I realised that this was not just a local or regional issue as I thought, but existed in other ‘more developed’ countries too.”

He said that the Association has been preparing for the arrival of COVID-19 but feels hampered because of the “general public perception that we simply count pills and sell cough mixtures”.

“So the question is why are these essential workers constantly being overlooked when their role is so essential to the stability of the physical and mental health imposed both directly and indirectly by COVID-19?”

He said he wanted to take the opportunity to encourage pharmacists, technicians and assistants across the country and abroad to keep “fighting the good fight” against COVID-19.

“We see you!” he wrote.


England, UK: Pharmacy workers in England who have symptoms of COVID-19 and are self-isolating are now able to take advantage of swab testing, Chemist + Druggist reports.

The Department of Health and Social care has increased its testing capacity to include more frontline workers as well as family or household members who have symptoms of the disease.

These tests will let frontline workers get back to work quicker provided they test negative, the Department says.

Professor John Newton, director of health improvement at Public Health England, said last week that it was time to stop talking about which workers to prioritise first, as “we’re at a point now where we have capacity to test”.

“How can you decide whether a tube driver is more important than a care worker or a community pharmacist?” he said.

“My task [is] to make available the testing capacity that the country needs to respond to COVID-19. That includes providing testing for all key workers so that they can get back to work if they test negative and that absolutely includes pharmacists,”

The English decision follows that of Wales, which has included pharmacy workers in its testing program since mid-March.

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