World news wrapup: 14 May 2020

Home-made Covid “cure” kills pharmacist; more UK closures; pharmacist politician risks Turkish Government crackdown to help in pandemic

Chennai, India: An Ayurvedic pharmacist has died after he drank a chemical concoction he reportedly believed could cure COVID-19.

The Hindu reports that 47-year-old K. Sivanesan, who worked at a Kashipur Ayurvedic and herbal products company and was staying in Chennai, had “devised formulas of various products”.

After acquiring chemicals including nitric oxide and sodium nitrate from a local market, he and his managing director, Dr Rajkumar, tried it with fatal results.

Dr Rajkumar was able to be resuscitated, but the pharmacist – who had tested positive for COVID-19 – died instantly.

According to The Hindu, Mr Sivanesan had “misunderstood” comments made by US president Donald Trump about potential cures for the novel coronavirus.


Ankara, Turkey: A politician and pharmacist is defying Turkey’s stance against efforts to help those in need, reports The National.

Gamze Tascier, who owns a pharmacy in the low socio-economic area of Mamak and is a deputy for Turkey’s Opposition party, the Republican People’s Party, has been handing out face masks to help people during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Justice and Development Party, which is currently in office, is attempting to stop the Opposition and other parties from helping people in need, with elected officials having charitable bank accounts frozen and some facing potential criminal charges.

The Government also banned the sale of face masks as it intended to distribute these itself for free, but an SMS system devised to administer this was dogged by glitches which meant many people missed out.

“Pharmacists know everyone because they are the health advisers of their neighborhoods, they have good and close relationships with people,” Ms Tascier told The National.

“I distribute masks to those who need them in the neighbourhood, where I have owned a pharmacy for years.”

She said that when people could not access the free masks they descended on pharmacy, and “the crowds risked even the pharmacists getting sick,” noting that Turkey has already lost some pharmacists to COVID-19 and one of her friends and colleagues has tested positive for the disease.

“The culture in Turkey is that neighbours help each other and I am happy to be able to help people I have had good relationship with for years at this difficult time,” she said.

“I also deliver boxes of masks to people the CHP’s district organisations say need help. So I have been able to reach as many people as possible in many districts in Ankara.”


North Dunedin, New Zealand: A woman has been attacked by a dog while social distancing outside a pharmacy, reports the Otago Daily Times.

Chin Loh, a pharmacist at the antidote Gardens Pharmacy, said that he helped rescue the woman and treat her injury after the dog attacked her.

He said that he heard a scream, ran outside and found that another customer’s dog had lunged at her as they waited to enter the pharmacy, and was now “clamped” onto her thigh.

Along with the attacking dog’s owner and a bystander, he managed to help pull the dog from her leg.

‘‘We struggled for quite a few minutes before the dog let go, but we were trying not to aggravate it any more or cause any more damage,” he told the Times.

He then put pressure on the injury and treated it with items from the pharmacy.


UK: An investigation by UK pharmacy publication Chemist + Druggist has found that 142 pharmacies across England have closed over 18 months between May 2018 and October 2019 – in addition to another 140 which had closed since the funding cuts of 2016 were introduced.

Eliza Slawther writes that 99 of the pharmacies which closed between May 2018 and October 2019 were owned by multiples: 51 Lloydspharmacy branches, 26 Boots branches, nine Rowlands, seven Day Lewis, three Cohens, two Well and one Jhoots. The remainder were independent.

More than half of the pharmacies were owned by Company Chemists Association members, and the CCA’s chief executive Malcolm Harrison said that due to the adjusted funding level, the sector “cannot sustain the current scale of the network”.

He said that CCA has called on NHS England to work with pharmacy to prevent a “gradual erosion of quality and safety of care for patients as funding is continually squeezed”.

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