World news wrapup: 10 September 2020

South African pharmacy chain in racism row; England quantifies its unpaid pharmacist consults; US pharmacists want to vaccinate against COVID

South Africa: South Africa’s largest pharmacy chain, Clicks Pharmacy, has seen a massive backlash against an advertisement which the country’s government has described as a “crude racist display”.

Clicks Pharmacy posted a series of images on its website which depicted different hair types.

Images of natural black hair as “dry and damaged” or “frizzy and dull” appeared, while “normal” hair was shown as long, straight and blonde (as was “fine and flat” hair) and on a white woman.

According to Yahoo, the left-wing Economic Freedom Fighters party protested outside Clicks Pharmacy stores around South Africa, and a number of outlets were vandalised, with around half having to close temporarily. Bloomberg reported that two stores were petrol bombed.

Black women also took to social media to express their outrage, posting images of their natural hair and using hashtags including #BlackHairIsNormal.

Clicks Pharmacy posted an apology from TRESemme South Africa on its website in which the company apologised for promoting “racist stereotypes about hair”.

The group also apologised on its own behalf, saying that the images “should never have made it onto our platforms”.

“We failed to apply the appropriate quality control measures and we apologise unreservedly for the hurt and anger we have caused,” it said.

“We are taking appropriate disciplinary action and are following a process to hold people accountable.”

The Government noted the “public outrage” sparked by the advertising and called for calm.

“Whilst we are equally disturbed by the crude racist display by the advertisement in question, the acts of lawlessness of vandalizing and burning down Clicks stores that have been reported today are concerning and go against the spirit of peace and respect for human rights that has shaped this country since the dawn of democracy,” it said.

“Engaging in lawless behavior is not a responsible way to resolve conflict.

“As this matter is being ventilated, government calls on all South Africans to resist the temptation to take the law into their own hands, remain calm and follow the correct and legal channels to address their concerns.”


England: The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee has released the findings of its Pharmacy Advice Audit, showing that around 75 minutes per day, per pharmacy, is spent providing free patient consultations.

The audit included data from more than 9,400 pharmacies across England in an attempt to quantify and explore the informal patient consultations which take place outside the Community Pharmacist Consultation Service (CPCS) or any other commissioned services.

A total of 198,043 patient consultations were recorded across the single day pharmacies recorded their consults.

PSNC found that:

  • the average staff time per consultation was just over five minutes;
  • around 10% (approx. 20,900) of the consultations were initiated with the non-pharmacist and referred to the pharmacist – this meant for longer total consultation times;
  • consultations initiated with a pharmacist took an average of 5.3 minutes pharmacist time;
  • consultations initiated with a non-pharmacist took an average of 4 minutes, with 19% referred to the community pharmacist where on average a further 4.3 minutes was spent with the patient; and
  • around 75 minutes per day, per pharmacy, is spent providing these consultations.

“This is all part of our case to HM Government for an uplift in… funding,” said PSNC chief executive Simon Dukes.


US: The American Pharmacists Association and 12 other groups have written to the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) to ask it to prioritise pharmacy vaccination against COVID-19 when a vaccine is available.

The letter was addressed to a NASEM special committee which is developing an overarching framework to help domestic and global policy-makers in planning for an equitable distribution of such a vaccine.

The draft framework places pharmacists in a “tier 2,” behind physicians and other providers who have been placed in “tier 1”.

As frontline health care workers who have served continuously throughout the pandemic across practice settings, pharmacy staff safety should be equally prioritised, the groups said, adding that delaying COVID-19 vaccination for pharmacy staff jeopardises patient access.

“Pharmacies and pharmacists in all practice settings are essential frontline health care providers and have been providing COVID-19 and related patient care since the coronavirus first appeared in the United States,” said APhA CEO Scott J. Knoer, MS, PharmD, FASHP, in a testimony submitted to the NASEM special committee.

The letter also warns that vaccination delays also threaten pharmacists’ ability to contribute to widespread vaccination efforts.

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