World news wrapup: 30 July 2020

Patient info goes missing after vandalism; COVID-19 cluster linked to pharmacy; Tory peer champions pharmacy

US: The CVS pharmacy chain has revealed that following vandalism at a number of stores between May 27 and June 8, information pertaining to 21,289 individual patients has gone missing.

Unrest erupted across the United States following the May 25 death in police custody of George Floyd, a black man who was arrested after he allegedly attempted to use a counterfeit $20 note. The officers concerned are facing a number of charges. Some pharmacies were targeted when looting took place alongside the protests.

CVS says that it has told the patients concerned that their information has gone missing, and it has not seen evidence that any of the information was misused.

“We place the highest priority on protecting the privacy of our patients,” the chain said in a statement to Becker’s Hospital Review.

“The privacy and security of their information is very important to us and we take significant measures to protect it from unauthorized uses and disclosures.

“Although the circumstances surrounding this incident were beyond our control, we are in the process of considering whether additional safeguards are necessary to further enhance protection of our patients’ personal health information.”

The lost information included paper scripts, filled scripts being held in the pharmacy and vaccine consent forms.


Waynesville, North Carolina: A COVID-19 cluster has emerged which has been linked to the Waynesville Pharmacy.

According to WLOS, officials from Haywood County Health and Human Services say that five current or former employees of the store have returned a positive test result for the novel coronavirus.

Waynesville Pharmacy itself said in a statement that two former employees returned a positive result after they had resigned, and that these people are self-isolating.

It said the other three people are current employees, and that the business is following all relevant guidelines to help trace contacts and to ensure all staff wear appropriate PPE at work.

“None of the individuals came in connection with any medications or supplies and were not present at the pharmacy while symptomatic or positive,” the pharmacy said.

“Immediately upon learning of the first positive case with possible linkage to our business, we, as a pharmacy family, chose to hire a third-party cleaning company to ensure the entire workplace was adequately sanitized.

“We have also decided to provide only drive-thru, curbside, and delivery services at this time to ensure greater safety for our customers and employees.”


London, England: A Conservative peer has slammed the British Government’s response to community pharmacy and said the community sector is the “heroic first line of defence for GPs and the NHS” in small towns.

Pharmacy Business reports that Lord Michael Grade of Yarmouth commented during a debate around a funding boost to the sector, including £370m advance funding (AUD$667.8m) to help bolster it during the pandemic.

“As I am sure the whole House will agree, independent pharmacies in so many small towns such as Yarmouth and places such as the Isle of Wight are now the heroic first line of defence for GPs and the NHS,” he said.

“The most vulnerable in these communities depend on them for medical advice and deliveries of vital prescriptions, which they offer for free. In my view, it is totally unrealistic for the department to point to some recent funding help as if that has solved the problem.

“It is nowhere near enough to keep the pharmacies in business, let alone to allow the pharmacists to have a day off or even earn a living. It just demonstrates that the department fails to understand why independent pharmacists are still in such grave peril.”

Junior Minister Lord James Nicholas Bethell agreed, saying that the sector is “absolutely pivotal” and that he would be pleased to meet a delegation to discuss its current challenges.


US: The US Food and Drug Administration has authorised the first diagnostic test for screening of people who do not have a known or suspected COVID-19 infection.

The FDA reissued the emergency use authorisation (EUA) of the LabCorp COVID-19 RT-PCR Test to include the new indications after the company provided data showing the test’s ability to test COVID-19 in a general, asymptomatic population.

This includes authorisation for the company to test pooled samples containing up to five individual swab specimens collected under observation. Sample pooling allows for fewer tests to be run overall, conserving resources and potentially allowing more samples to be evaluated quicker.

“FDA’s authorization of the first diagnostic test to be used for anyone, regardless of whether they are showing symptoms of COVID-19 or have other exposure risk factors, is a step toward the type of broad screening that may help enable the reopening of schools and workplaces,” said FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, M.D.

“By authorizing another test for use with pooled samples, we also further help increase the possibility that patients may be able to receive results sooner, while also conserving vital testing supplies, which are under increased demand during the pandemic.

“Continuing to facilitate increased access to accurate and reliable tests for all Americans is critically important and the FDA continues to work around the clock with test developers to support this goal.”

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