World news wrapup: 1 November 2018

happy child being vaccinated

What happened to the Boots closed during the Novichok poisoning; Americans can’t afford to fill scripts; Uganda crying out for pharmacists

Amesbury, UK: The area manager of the Boots which was closed during investigation into the Novichok poisoning incident has spoken to Chemist + Druggist about the ordeal.

On June 30, local man Charlie Rowley visited the Boots around midday, before returning home. Later in the day, Mr Rowley and his partner, Dawn Sturgess, became ill and were hospitalised.

Ms Sturgess died, while Mr Rowley survived. The nerve agent Novichok was identified as the agent responsible.

According to Deborah Kelly, Boots area manager for Wiltshire, police went to the Boots branch and asked the staff to leave.

They “literally came in and told us we were going to have to get out of the store,” Ms Kelly told C+D.

The store reopened only days ago, on October 29, following the closure and some “essential maintenance” and a “refresh”.

The opening hours of the only other pharmacy nearby were extended during the closure, Ms Kelly said.

This pharmacy “introduced new pharmacists and dispensing teams,” and began operating on Sundays for the first time, as well as opening for longer. Staff at the closed branch had been able to work there to help out.

“We not only had to gel as a team, but extend our opening hours as well. [Both teams] were really supportive of each other, of me, and of the community,” Ms Kelly said.

“I’m really proud of them for that.

“It was important that we could maintain continuity of medication… and we’ve had some really positive feedback from the community.”


Rockville, Maryland: New data from DrFirst – a US provider of e-prescribing and patient medication management solutions – shows that nearly half of American consumers have abandoned a prescription because it was too expensive.

The nationwide survey showed that 73% of American consumers would change pharmacies if they knew that doing so would save them money on a script.

According to the findings, as little as US$10 (AUD$14.12) in savings would motivate 38% of respondents to switch pharmacies.

If the savings rose to between US$11 (AUD$15.53) and US$25 (AUD$33.88), nearly 70% of them would choose a different pharmacy.

The survey results are consistent with recent studies that found a high correlation between drug costs and medication adherence, or the likelihood that patients will follow their doctor’s prescribed therapy. A 2017 Truven Health Analytics-NPR Health Poll found that 67% of patients who failed to fill their prescriptions in the last 90 days reported high costs as their reason.


Uganda: Uganda needs more pharmacists in government facilities, says the Pharmaceutical Society of Uganda.

PSU secretary general Samuel Opio spoke at a recent gathering of professionals to explain that there are only 50 pharmacists working in such facilities, reports The Observer.

Nearly 500 million Ugandan shillings (AUD$187,607) are needed to destroy expired drugs in health centres – which are also suffering due to significant drug stock shortages. National Medicines Stores, which highlighted the need for funding, has experienced “significant backlash” around it handling of drug procurement and distribution.

“It is high time more pharmacists are recruited both at the ministry of health, national referral hospitals and even health centre IVs,” said Mr Opio.

“Uganda needs at least 500 pharmacists but we only have 50; this is too small, we would have saved the Shs 500m needed for destroying drugs if we had pharmacists.”

Nursing assistants, nurses and doctors have had to dispense drugs in the meantime, he said.

“Only 150 graduate in pharmacy each year, imagine 70% go to private practice, the rest go to organisations like NMS, National Drug Authority, ministry of Health, non-governmental organisations while others become industrial chemists. This has denied the public a chance to have pharmacist,” Mr Opio said.  


Saskatchewan, Canada: Pharmacists in Saskatchewan have been granted new responsibilities, under an agreement between the provincial government and the province’s Pharmacy Association.

This will see pharmacists able to prescribe for minor ailments, such as uncomplicated urinary tract infections in women, hormonal and emergency contraceptives, erectile dysfunction and smoking cessation, reports CBC; as well as conjunctivitis, shingles, onychomycosis, flu and obesity.

Pharmacists will also be able to give flu vaccinations to children aged five to eight, as well as people living in personal care homes and assisted living apartments. Until recently, they were restricted to children aged nine or older, and on pharmacy premises.

“The agreement will help community pharmacies maintain outstanding service for patients, while absorbing increased operating expenses,” said Pharmacy Association chair Paul Bazin.

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