World news wrapup: 11 March 2021

consumers privacy pharmacy

Pharmacist’s joke leads to privacy lawsuit; pharmacist keeps vaccinating despite personal losses; registration cancelled after appeal fails

Phoenix, Arizona: An Arizona Supreme Court ruling has revived the lawsuit of a man who claimed a Costco pharmacist’s joke ruined his chances of reconciliation with his ex-wife.

Greg Shepherd claims that an unexpected and unwanted prescription for an erectile dysfunction medication turned up twice in his order at a Costco pharmacy, the Mercury News reports.

Court records state that he had twice given the ED drug back to the pharmacy and asked for the script, a sample his doctor had included, to be cancelled.

Then his ex-wife, with whom Mr Shepherd was trying to reconcile, picked up another order, which again included the ED medicine.

She gave it back to the pharmacist, and according to Mr Shepherd “the two joked about it”.

He says that when she went back to see him, she told him she knew about the ED drug and no longer wanted to try and reconcile.

Mr Shepherd also claims that his ex-wife told his children and friends about the medicines.

He is alleging negligent disclosure of medical information. Costco had previously admitted that the pharmacist’s joke violated privacy regulations, but said that Arizona law gives protection to health providers by presuming they acted in good faith. As an individual he was also precluded from filing a claim under these privacy regulations, it said.

The suit had earlier been dismissed, but Mr Shepherd will now have a chance to argue his case following the new ruling.


Dublin, Ireland: A man robbed a Dublin pharmacy with a knife, getting away with drugs and cash, but an intrepid pharmacist followed him home, resulting in charges.

The Irish Examiner reports that Paul Bradley went to the Liberties Careplus pharmacy and pointed a knife at two female employees, causing a “considerable amount of trauma”.

He demanded Valium from the pharmacist, and fled with the medicine as well as €250 (AUD$387).

But the pharmacist followed him to an apartment building nearby, and contacted gardaí, who found Mr Bradley in an apartment, along with the knife, money and drugs.

At Dublin Circuit Criminal Court he pleaded guilty to a count of robbing the pharmacy, as well as to offences concerning an earlier burglary, for which he was on bail at the time he robbed the pharmacy.

At that time he had broken into an office and “ransacked” it, but managed to cause only damage and not find anything to steal.

Mr Bradley already had 22 previous convictions for burglary, the court heard.

He was given a three-year sentence for the pharmacy robbery and a one-year sentence for burgling the office, to be served consecutively.

“He’s not very good at crime, he seems to get caught a lot,” Judge Martin Nolan said.


Suffolk, England: A pharmacist’s registration remains cancelled after he lost an appeal against a previous decision, where he was sanctioned for stealing drugs.

The Ipswich Star reports that Joseph Achina stole £4,417 (AUD$7,970) worth of drugs from the Stowmarket Health Centre, where he worked as the manager of a Boots pharmacy.

These medicines—diamorphine, diazepam and sleeping tablets—were reportedly stolen to order between October 2016 and June 2017.

He had initially claimed that he stole them to send to family in Ghana, but messages on his devices contradicted this claim.

In 2018 he was jailed for 31 months. In February 2020 the Register of Pharmacists decided his fitness to practise was impaired, saying that the behaviour in question was “fundamentally incompatible with continued registration”.

The Star reports that Mr Achina appealed the decision on five grounds, including that the committee failed to pay adequate attention to mitigating circumstances, and failed to consider time since the offences when his registration had been temporarily suspended by an interim order.

He also said that committee members had been biased against him due to what he perceived as their adherence to Islam, because Mr Achina was a black Christian.

Mr Justice Lane said he found no merit in these suggestions and the appeal was dismissed.


Los Angeles, California: A pharmacist has been lauded after she continued to oversee the vaccinations of “literally thousands” of older people, despite losing two grandparents to COVID-19.

NBC Los Angeles reports that Payal Patel, manager of the CVS pharmacy at Sylmar in suburban LA, was devoted to her grandparents, Natverbhai (her mother’s father) and Santa Ben (her father’s mother).

Tragically, both grandparents succumbed to the novel coronavirus.

After Natverbhai died, the pharmacist went straight back to work vaccinating seniors against the disease.

“She asked me, ‘What should I do? I want to keep working. I want to help people. I just need to take a little time off’,” her employer told the station.

“This cause became so much larger than myself. I had to put myself together to keep going, keep going,” Ms Payal said.

When her grandmother died, she went back to her team at a care facility to keep vaccinating.

“All these senior citizens getting vaccines just made me think this is somebody’s grandpa, this is somebody’s grandma,” she said.

“They’re going to be able to help their parents. They were just so delighted to see us there, you know. It just made the purpose so real.”

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