World news wrapup: 11 February 2021

Panic in Lebanon as meds fly off the shelves; pharmacist son reunites with father to give him COVID jab; collective agreement to boost wages in West Africa

Lebanon: Yahoo News has reported on medicines shortages in Lebanon, caused by panic buying.

Layal Abou Rahal writes that the country, which was already badly affected by an economic downturn before the COVID-19 pandemic – and which then faced a 2021 surge in cases – is seeing the emergence of a “flourishing” black market in medicines.

Any medicines thought to treat the novel coronavirus, as well as oxygen tanks and other medicines, are becoming harder to access, particularly through legal channels.

For example, when parasite treatment Ivermectin was rumoured to be a “miracle cure” for COVID, people began to smuggle it into the country and sell it at a significant markup – while it remains hard to find in pharmacies.

Subsidised medicines are also being smuggled out of the country, Yahoo reports, to sell in foreign markets, with some coming to light as far away as the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Owner of the Mazen Pharmacy in Beirut, Mazen Bissat, said that, “People are scared medicine will run out, so they’re stockpiling at home enough for a month, even six months, according to what they can afford.

“There’s a medicine shortage, and suppliers have not delivered on quantities requested by the pharmacies.”

Mr Bissat said that when 300 boxes of an OTC painkiller recently came in, he took to displaying only 10 a day, to attempt to make them last until the end of the month.


Manchester, England: Yahoo News has reported on the case of Aneet Kapoor, a pharmacist who had not seen his father since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic – and who recently caught up with him to vaccinate him.

Reporter Emily Cleary writes that Mr Kapoor, owner and director of Kapoor Pharmacy Services and chair of the Greater Manchester Local Pharmaceutical Committee, lives only a few doors away from his father Suneel.

But the two had not seen each other since the shielding strategy was introduced as the pandemic began, due to Mr Kapoor Senior’s age increasing his risk.

“It’s been a long journey, but it was great to finally be able to give [my] dad the vaccine,” Aneet Kapoor told Yahoo.

“It was an emotional moment.

“It’s been a very difficult year. I live very close to my dad, only a few doors away, but at some point over the last 10 months it’s felt like we’ve lived 4,000 miles away.

“It feels now like there’s light at the end of the tunnel.”


Nashville, Tennessee: Walgreens employee Dor Charika McKinney has been charged after she helped steal around 1,300 opioid pills from customers, WKRN reports.

According to a warrant, while at work Ms McKinney would notice a script for an opioid being filled and then call an associate and give him the patient information he would need to pick up the medicines.

The man, who according to WKRN has not yet been identified, would then come and collect the medicines – which included hydrocodone and oxycodone – or ask an associate to do so.

Ms McKinney would also look on social media for purchases, police allege.

The pills were stolen from at least 11 patients between November 30, 2020 and January 25, according to court documents, with the thefts beginning soon after Ms McKinney commenced employment at the pharmacy.

She has reportedly admitted to her behaviour and been charged on 11 counts of conspiracy to commit identity theft and felony drug conspiracy.

A Walgreens spokesperson said, “Walgreens is aware of this incident and is cooperating with law enforcement.”


Togo: A significant step has been taken towards modernising pharmacy in the West African nation, Togo First reports.

Ekoué Ekoué-Bla, general secretary of the Union of Private and Wholesale Pharmacists of Togo, announced that following a five-year negotiation period, a collective agreement has been made to improve the working and living standards of the nation’s pharmacists.

The agreement is hoped to improve relationships between pharmacy employers and workers, Togo First reports.

It will boost wages, including allowing a provision for overtime pay, and see a reassessment of working hours.

Pharmacy workers, as well as the National Order of Pharmacists of Togo, welcomed the news.

Member Dr Innocent Kpeto said the agreement is “a huge step toward the modernization of the pharmacy sector in Togo”.

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