World News Wrapup: 10 October 2016

We take a look at pharmacy news around the world

Aberdeen, Scotland: An Aberdeen pharmacist has been sentenced to 20 months’ jail after he pled guilty to forging scripts and committing VAT (value added tax) fraud of more than £200,000, the Press and Journal reports.

Aberdeen Sheriff Court heard that Conrad Chau, who at the time was the owner of the Holburn pharmacy, altered scripts in order to have pharmaceutical companies send him more medicines at a discounted price, so that he could on-sell them to other companies at a profit.

He would fax copies of scripts for quota controlled drugs, claiming they had been written by doctors, the Court heard.

“The accused pretended to these companies that he had dispensed his monthly quota to genuine patients and thereafter sent over quota orders, these were sent by fax and e-mail and contained fraudulently altered prescriptions for products that had never been prescribed by relevant doctors,” fiscal depute Kelly Mitchell had earlier told the Court.

Chau also changed his invoice addresses to a Saudi Arabia address so that they did not attract VAT, but the NHS fraud service found that the health practice sending the invoices was based in Glasgow.

“An individual from the healthcare centre in Glasgow provided 24 invoices from June 2012 to July 2014 all showing details of VAT charged to the then Holburn Pharmacy, he confirmed that the VAT had been paid to the accused by way of BACS transfer,” Mitchell said.

“The total of the payment was £214,790.77.”

Chau is no longer associated with the Holburn Pharmacy.


India: Pharmacists around India are planning to go on strike as a protest against the illegal online sale of medicines.

The Times of India reports that around the country, pharmacist associations such as those in Mumbai, Gurugram and Ludihiana are planning to shut their stores on November 23.

Gurgaon Chemists and Druggists Association president Sharad Mehrotra told the Times that the pharmacists are concerned about poor regulation, dispensing without prescription and patient safety issues associated with online pharmacies.

“It is utter nonsense. Illegal practice of selling medicines, like vegetables, online has been going on for a long time. Some online forums are giving medicines without doctor’s prescription, which is not permitted,” says Mehrotra.

“In fact, there have been many cases wherein people ordered drugs online and it proved to be fatal for them.”

Indian pharmacists have been expressing concerns about illegal online pharmacies for some time; in October 2015 they held a similar day-long nationwide strike.


Ireland: Business confidence in Ireland’s pharmacy sector continues to drop, with many pharmacists believing the outlook is worsening, says the Irish Pharmacy Union.

The Union’s latest Quarterly Business Trends survey reveals that confidence has dropped by 10% compared to the previous quarter. A significant factor is a sharp drop in sales/turnover in the latest quarter, with overall net figures dipping to -1 % for the first time over the last 12 months.

“With footfall, sales and employment down in Q3 it is not surprising that pharmacy owner/managers are less confident about the business environment and their own business prospects. The uncertainty over Brexit and the recent IPHA Agreement remain key concerns within the sector,” says Eoghan Hanly, Chairman of the IPU’s Pharmacy Contractors’ Committee.


Ohio, US: A new law has allowed Ohio pharmacists to dispense life-saving medicines if patients run out of refills and are unable to obtain a script from their prescriber in time to maintain compliance with their medication regime, Pharmacy Times reports.

The new legislation follows the death of 36-year-old Kevin Houdeshell, an insulin-dependent diabetes patient who died after his pharmacist was unable to provide him with the insulin he needed on a holiday weekend in 2013, as he did not have a prescription. Houdeshell’s parents pressed local legislators to change the law as a result.

Pharmacists can now order up to a 30-day supply of refills (or the smallest unit measurement if the medicine cannot be broken down into a 30-day supply) for patients whose lives may be endangered by stopping their medication and who cannot get in touch with their prescriber for a script.

“This law is a game-changer for all Ohioans who suffer from chronic diseases,” says Ohio Pharmacists Association Executive Director Ernest Boyd.

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