World news wrapup: 14 February 2019


Canadian pharmacist struck off after concealing sexual assault charges and going on the run; Turkish medicines shortage; US pharmacists happy with salaries

Alberta, Canada: A pharmacist who was sentenced to jail for the sexual assault of a teenage girl failed to tell the Alberta College of Pharmacy, and kept practising the profession.

CBC Canada reports that Sinan Hadi was sentenced to 15 months’ jail in June 2018, after being convicted of the sexual assault and unlawful confinement of a minor.

After a collision with her car, he had convinced the teenager to get into his own car, then drove her to several different locations and assaulted her.

Mr Hadi was not present when sentenced, and instead of going to jail, he failed to surrender his passport or to attend court-mandated pre-sentence appointments.

Edmonton Police confirmed to CBC that the pharmacist was still wanted on a nationwide warrant.

The Alberta College of Pharmacists only discovered the conviction 18 months later, when the victim’s parents lodged a complaint.

Mr Hadi was found working at a pharmacy in Gibbons, a town near Edmonton.

The College’s registrar, Greg Eberhart, said that the self-reporting system worked and that as soon as it became aware of the conviction, the College initiated a formal complaint and began an investigation. It struck Mr Hadi from the register after finding him guilty of concealing the criminal charges from both the College, and his employer in Gibbons.

A client of the pharmacy where Mr Hadi had been working, journalism student Marina Shenfield, told CBC that pharmacists “are in positions of power, and they have access to people’s personal information. You probably wouldn’t want someone who’s been charged with sexually assaulting a minor to have that.”

 

US: Industry publication Pharmacy Times has surveyed its readers and found that overall, pharmacists are content with their salaries – but not their jobs themselves.

The Times’ Salary and Job Satisfaction Survey asked pharmacists to rate their satisfaction with their pay on a scale of one to seven, where one was “not at all” satisfied and seven was “extremely”.

Only 14% rated their satisfaction as one or two, while around 62% rated it as five, six or seven, the Times found.

Many readers also appeared to have grown more satisfied with their salaries over time.

Some pharmacists were concerned about whether their pay accurately reflected the work they do, however.

Pharmacy Times interviewed Katherine Cheng, a New York state community pharmacist, who said that “although we are paid a decent salary, I do not feel we are fairly compensated as long as laws governing our well-being are lacking. For example, many retail pharmacists continue to work 8-hour or more shifts and are not provided a break”.

A previous article on the survey showed that when asked to rate job satisfaction on the same one-to-seven scale as the pay question, only 51% answered five, six or seven.

The pharmacists surveyed worked in a range of settings, including 52% in community pharmacy, 31% in a health system and 16% “other”.

Another recent study found that US pharmacists receive a median base salary of US$127,120 (AU$173,995) across the profession.

 

Turkey: Reuters reports that Turkey is experiencing a significant shortage of “critical” medicines, thanks to a government pricing decision.

The agency interviewed Hulya Akpinar, an Istanbul pharmacist who said that patients are unable to get blood pressure and diabetes medicines from her pharmacy as her shelves are “almost bare”.

“We have been calling the pharma warehouses several times a day to ask if they can deliver these drugs, but we can’t find them,” she said.

While medicines shortages regularly occur at the beginning of each year in Turkey – due to the setting of the exchange rate for medicines purchases – this year they are particularly bad, and exacerbated due to the depreciation of the Turkish lira.

Of 10 Istanbul pharmacies contacted by Reuters, nine did not have common blood pressure or influenza medicines in stock, and the tenth said it only had one box.

According to Turkish Pharmacists’ Association chief Erdogan Colak, 150 medicines were not available throughout January, with diabetes and blood pressure drugs particularly scarce.

The Health Ministry said an end to the shortage was in sight, after the Government permitted the sale of 41 drugs at prices higher than those set by the exchange rate.

 

US: Four state pharmacy associations have joined Pharmacists for Healthier Lives, a coalition of pharmacy organisations which aim to raise the profile of pharmacy as an essential health profession.

The Nebraska Pharmacists Association, the Iowa Pharmacy Association, the Illinois Pharmacists Association, and the Indiana Pharmacists join existing members, which include the Georgia Pharmacy Association, the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy, the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education, the National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations, and PrescribeWellness.

They hope to educate consumers and legislators alike about the contributions pharmacists make to medication management, improving patient outcomes and to the United States’ healthcare system overall.

“The addition of these state pharmacy organisations to our growing coalition is a major step forward in building a nationwide network of healthcare professionals to promote the important work our nation’s pharmacists do each day,” said Dr Lucinda L. Maine, executive vice president and CEO of AACP.

“With their help, our coalition will continue to promote the full-range of expertise and services pharmacists provide and the great impact they make on people’s lives through patient education, prescriber consultations and community service.”

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