World news wrapup: 10 May 2018

Image courtesy Walmart.

Pharmacy crime rampant in Ireland; counterfeit drugs epidemic in Trinidad and Tobago; Walmart’s new measures to combat opioid crisis

Dublin, Ireland: President of the Irish Pharmacy Union Daragh Connolly has fronted an Oireachtas (legislature) Committee to call for improved safety for Irish pharmacists and their staff.

According to the Irish Sun, Mr Connolly said more visible policing, more CCTV in public areas and harsher sentences for criminals are required to help reduce crime against the sector.

The appearance follows the release of the Irish Pharmacy Union Crime Survey 2017 earlier this year which revealed that almost four out of five (79%) of pharmacies had been the victim of crimes within the previous year, including shoplifting, break-ins and raids.

“The most violent type of crimes committed against pharmacies involve gangs who come in with a syringe, knife, gun or hatchet demanding prescription drugs,” Mr Connolly told the Committee.

“Crime has a negative impact on staff morale with the psychological aftermath and traumatic effects of these crimes – particularly violent crimes – leading to increased levels of absenteeism.

“Crime also damages businesses, threatens jobs and negatively impacts on staff morale. These hidden costs can have a far bigger impact on the pharmacy business than the direct costs of damage and loss.

“This sinister and frightening pattern of crime on pharmacies will continue, to the detriment of our members’ pharmacies and staff, and the local communities we serve.”


Bentonville, Arkansas: Walmart has announced that Walmart and Sam’s Club pharmacies, across the US and in Puerto Rico, is implementing new measures aimed at curbing the opioid crisis.

Within the next 60 days, the pharmacies will restrict initial acute opioid prescriptions to no more than a seven-day supply, with up to a 50 morphine milligram equivalent maximum each day.

“This policy is in alignment with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) guidelines for opioid use,” says Walmart. “Where state law for fills on new acute opioid prescriptions is less than seven days, Walmart and Sam’s Club will follow state law.”

And from 1 January 2010, the pharmacies will require e-prescriptions for controlled substances, as these are less prone to errors, can’t be altered or copied and are electronically trackable.

By the end of August this year, Walmart expects its pharmacists will also have access to and be able to use NarxCare, the controlled substance tracking tool.

It is reinforcing that its pharmacists provide naloxone recommendations for patients who might be at risk of opioid overdose in alignment with CDC guidelines; and will conduct additional training on opioid stewardship for its pharmacists, including a pain management curriculum.


Trinidad and Tobago: Consumers are playing “Russian Roulette” with their health, claims an article in the Trinidad and Tobago Guardian, due to the number of counterfeit and unregistered drugs finding their way onto pharmacy and supermarket shelves.

These drugs include those for treating diabetes, hypertension, cancer, erectile dysfunction and cardiovascular disease. They reportedly have been found to contain ingredients such as pain, chalk, rat poison, arsenic, floor wax, antifreeze and brick dust.

Pharmacies frequently purchase drugs via “suitcase trading” with unauthorised distributors, particularly if they are in shortage through formal channels, the Guardian alleges.

The original article by reporter Charles Kong Soo prompted pharmacist Nalini Dial to urge the country’s health minister, Terrence Deyalsingh, to reveal the names of the fake medicines being sold by pharmacies.

“The minister cannot have the public and also the pharmacists in a state of confusion and worry,” Ms Dial says.

Pharmacy Board of T&T president Andrew Rahaman told the Guardian that the Health Ministry uses Caribbean Industrial Research Institute laboratories to test drugs, the results are not disclosed to pharmacists, leaving them in the dark about the authenticity of the drugs.


UK: Well Pharmacy has created a new channel for patients to receive erectile dysfunction medication to their door, without having to talk to a pharmacist.

Chemist + Druggist reports that the service, “Eddie,” allows patients to order monthly deliveries of Viagra Connect.

The service was announced by Well head of transformation Chris Ellett at the Pharmacy Forum conference in Spain.

Colleagues had told him that “customers don’t want to have to go through between 14 and 30-odd questions” each time they buy the medicines from a pharmacist, he told C+D.

To access the service, patients will need to fill out an online questionnaire which will then be checked by a pharmacist before the purchase is authorised.

Mr Ellett told C+D that the questionnaire could actually give more information than a standard pharmacist consult, as it includes questions such as whether gay men using the service use alkyl nitrate, or “poppers”.

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