World news wrapup: 10 October 2019

Pay rise could ruin UK pharmacies; US pharmacy suspended over racehorse deaths; “stigma-free” pharmacy opens in San Francisco

UK: A rise in the UK’s national living wage could spell “ruin” for small pharmacy chains and independent contractors, according to Chemist+Druggist.

The publication reports that Chancellor Sajid Javid’s decision to increase the living wage from £8.21 (AUD$14.88) to £10.50 (AUD$19.03) by 2024 could see pharmacies “decimated”.

Chartered accountant and a partner at Silver Levene LLP Umesh Modi told C+D that “many contractors are already struggling to make ends meet”.

“How will they pay higher wages?” he asked.

“Costs have increased significantly over the last few years and with non-inflationary-linked pharmacy funding to 2023-24, this additional burden will decimate many contractors and other businesses unless there is cost relief elsewhere.”

Further redundancies could be likely as a result, he warned.

“Mr Javid should think about reducing the red tape and administrative burden of running a business and giving business owners room to breathe.”


Gardiner, Maine: A pharmacy which stands accused of killing two racehorses with drugs it compounded and dispensed has been suspended, writes the Bangor Daily News.

The Rapid Equine Pharmacy LLC, which was based in Pennsylvania but was also licensed to send drugs to Maine, was found to have distributed thousands of doses of medicines to a veterinarian who sold them to horse owners without scripts – from a van.

This meant that the pharmacy was effectively “acting as a wholesale supplier of compounded prescription drugs” to this vet, as well as “knowingly or negligently facilitating the diversion” to horses without scripts.

In July, the Food and Drug Administration said that the pharmacy had distributed a paste consisting of both toltrazuril and pyrimethamine – intended to treat a parasite infestation – but the proportions of the two actives were reversed.

This meant it contained 18 to 21 times the pyrimethamine it should have done.

Six tubes of this medicine were then sent to the vet in question, who gave them to the handlers of two Standardbred horses, both of which subsequently developed “acute severe neurologic disease” and had to be put down. A third horse, in Ohio, also died. The Daily News writes that 84 batches of this medicine had been created by Rapid.

The pharmacy was suspended for 30 days following a unanimous vote on its immediate future by the Maine Board of Pharmacy.

Assistant Maine Attorney General Andrew Black said the case was “unprecedented”.


San Francisco, California: According to the Pharmacy Times, a new kind of pharmacy has opened in San Francisco: a store which hopes to be “stigma-free”.

TIN Rx says it plans to serve the city’s most vulnerable patients, including members of the LGBTQI+ population as well as homeless patients and those who are taking pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to avoid contracting HIV.

“My hope and goal is to provide a more inviting experience for patients,” said co-founder Christina Garcia, who told the pharmacy publication that all staff have been given training in providing care to people who are often subject to stigma. She said she hopes to create a safe space for patients who have been subject to abuse or hate crimes.

“It’s time for somebody brave in our profession to really lead the new wave,” she said. “There’s going to come a point where we cannot ignore this large community.”

The pharmacy’s mail order service is a significant example: Ms Garcia said that when people receive parcels in the mail with a large pharmacy logo, this can be spotted by room-mates, so TIN Rx has created more discreet packaging.

The store is the first independent pharmacy in California to dispense PrEP.


Whaley Bridge, Derbyshire: A pharmacist has been lauded for his bravery in hand-delivering medicines in a town which had been evacuated due to a flooding risk, reports Chemist+Druggist.

Raj Modi, branch manager of the Whaley Bridge Well Pharmacy, worked with police to distribute medicines after more than 1,500 residents were evacuated because of the risk the nearby Toddbrook reservoir could flood the area.

He shared his personal mobile phone number with local media including radio and social media, C+D says.

NHS England deputy chief pharmaceutical officer Dr Bruce Warner has now visited Mr Modi to thank him for his commitment to his patients.

He said that it is clear that Mr Modi “really cares about his patients and local community, putting his own safety to one side to care for those who needed it most at a very difficult time,” Dr Warner said.

NHS England medical director Stephen Powis also thanked Mr Modi, saying that he “embodies the best of the NHS, which is there for people come hell or, in this case, high water”.

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