World news wrapup: 12 November 2020

Pharmacists elected to Congress; UK pharmacist cleared of making anti-Semitic remarks; sentence of 40 years recommended for US pharmacist

United States: Three pharmacists elected to Congress are being welcomed by pharmacy stakeholder groups in the US, reports Drug Topics.

“We’re excited Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA) is being joined in Congress by another pharmacist, Diana Harshbarger [R] of Tennessee, and pharmacy owner Jerry Carl (R-AL), both of whom have an in-depth understanding of issues important to independent community pharmacy owners,” said NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey in a statement provided to Drug Topics.

“We look forward to working with them and with the incoming administration to enable pharmacists to contribute fully in the fight against the coronavirus, rein in pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), and fix pharmacy DIR [direct and indirect remuneration] fees.”

Also congratulating the elected pharmacists were National Association of Chain Drug Stores President and CEO Steven C Anderson, and Scott J. Knoer, CEO and executive vice president of the American Pharmacists Association.

APhA welcomes “the opportunity to work with the next administration and the 117th Congress to continue recognizing pharmacists as medical experts providing patient care,” it said.


UK: A pharmacist who reportedly declared that victims of the Grenfell Tower disaster were murdered by “Zionists” has been cleared of making anti-Semitic remarks.

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports that Nazim Ali, a pharmacist, made a speech at a 2017 march in which he alleged that, “Some of the biggest supporters of the Conservative Party are Zionists”.

“They are responsible for the murder of the people in Grenfell. The Zionist supporters of the Tory Party. Free, Free, Palestine!” Mr Ali allegedly said.

One blogger cited by the JTA wrote that Mr Ali had said that it was “in their [Zionists’] genes to “occupy Regent Street”.

After calls for Mr Ali to be suspended from practising as a pharmacist, the General Pharmaceutical Council held a hearing in which it was determined that Mr Ali’s remarks had been “offensive but not anti-Semitic”.

The GPhC declined to take action against the pharmacist, noting that the remarks had been made at a “pro-Palestine, anti-Zionist” rally.

“The committee concluded that most reasonable people knowing this would not be surprised to hear the term ‘Zionists’ used on that day by the registrant. It would only be thought antisemitic by most reasonable people if they believe additionally that when using this term what actually was meant was ‘Jews’.”


Fredericksburg, Virginia: A pharmacist has been convicted of 18 charges relating to money laundering and illegal drug distribution – and a jury has recommended he be imprisoned for 40 years.

The Free Lance-Star reports that Hardik S Patel, who operated the HnR Pharmacy, was arrested in June 2018 and tried twice, with the first trial ending in a mistrial.

Evidence presented in the second trial showed that Mr Patel repeatedly sold prescription medicines to a police informant.

The informant, who had himself been previously convicted of several felonies, bought drugs 10 times from the pharmacist while working with police. A significant amount of video and audio footage was obtained of the transactions.

The informant told the court that in a bid to help with his own difficulties with law enforcement, he had approached police with information about the pharmacist.

Mr Patel was convicted after the jury deliberated for four hours.


Christchurch, NZ: A person who has tested positive for COVID-19 has visited the new Chemist Warehouse at the South City Mall in Christchurch.

According to a statement from the Canterbury DHB, the person was the second staff member from the Christchurch Managed Isolation Facility who tested positive for the novel coronavirus earlier this month.

According to Medical Officer of Health Dr Ramon Pink, the person checked into the store using a “most useful” tracer app, which allowed the Ministry of Health to pinpoint the time the person was in the store.

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