World news wrapup: 15 February 2018

Sam McCauley Pharmacy, Redmond Square. Image: Google

Man stabs pharmacist over pharma conspiracy theory; hero pharmacy staff help collapsed man; Purdue to stop promoting opioids to GPs

Swansea, Wales: A man has appeared in court after stabbing a pharmacist over a pharmaceutical conspiracy theory.

Peter Bellett went to the Carmarthenshire village pharmacy in December 2016 intending to “uncover the truth” about whether doctors were overprescribing medicines and whether the pharmacist, Michael Irons, was profiting from this.

He stabbed Mr Irons in the arm with a knife and, after the pharmacist escaped, contacted emergency services.

According to the BBC, he then told police that he “could really do with a cup of tea”.

A Swansea court heard that Mr Irons had suffered mental and physical scars and decided to sell his pharmacy as a result of the attack. It also heard Mr Bellett was suffering from a psychosis and believed in “worldwide conspiracies”.

Mr Bellett had admitted wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, and possessing an offensive weapon in a public place.

As well as the attack on Mr Irons, he was sentenced for 12 counts of historical indecent assaults on a girl aged under 14. He was made the subject of a 10-year hospital order.


Wexford, Ireland: A pharmacist and pharmacy assistant have been hailed as heroes after they helped save a man who went into cardiac arrest.

Supervising pharmacist Louise Beegan and staff member Dawn Foley, from the Sam McCauley’s Pharmacy in Redmond Square, Wexford (pictured), rushed to the man’s aid after he collapsed in the street and a passer-by came into the pharmacy to seek help.

Ms Foley ran to get the pharmacy’s defibrillator while Ms Beegan went to the man’s side, the Irish Mirror reports.

They used the defibrillator and between the two of them, as well as two other passers-by who had some first aid training, performed chest compressions and CPR.

“There was about 20 people looking on. We did what we could and then the ambulance arrived and worked on him,” Ms Beegan told the Mirror.

The man is now recovering in hospital and his relatives posted messages on social media thanking those who helped him.

Ms Beegan said the incident was a shock and it was her first time using a defibrillator outside of her training.

The pharmacy had raised funds to purchase the defibrillator in early 2017.


Stamford, Connecticut: Against the backdrop of America’s opioid crisis, Purdue Pharma LP has made a significant change to the way it promotes its opioid medicines.

“We have restructured and significantly reduced our commercial operation and our sales representatives will no longer promote opioids to prescribers,” the OxyContin manufacturer announced.

“Going forward, questions and requests for information about our opioid products will be handled through direct communication with the highly experienced healthcare professionals that comprise our Medical Affairs department.”

Purdue has reportedly slashed its pharmaceutical sales force by half, leaving about 200 reps.


UK: Pharmacy is experiencing a backlash against an NHS policy of encouraging parents to take sick children to pharmacies, rather than doctors.

The Sun reports that the NHS hopes to save £850million by involving pharmacists in treating minor illnesses under the Stay Well Pharmacy campaign.

But Patient Concern spokesperson Joyce Robins told the paper that “this advice is potentially dangerous if parents delay too long,” while chief executive of the Patients Association Rachel Power said that pharmacists are often a sensible first option for common childhood illnesses.

“However we would not want to see parents put off taking their children to see a doctor if they have any suspicion that something more serious could be wrong,” she said.

The patient groups are concerned that pharmacists “may struggle” to spot serious illnesses which a GP could be more likely to diagnose.


UK: Following the launch of the Safer Pharmacies Charter, the UK’s Pharmacists’ Defence Association is urging pharmacists to share their experiences of safety in the workplace.

PDA has launched a survey addressing key issues outlined in the Charter, and hopes to use the findings to persuade the Government, regulators and employers to improve working conditions for pharmacists.

 “We have already had thousands of responses from pharmacists but would like more before analysing and promoting the results,” says Alima Batchelor, Head of Policy at PDA.

“As a profession, we need to do all we can to keep pharmacies safe.”

The Charter consists of seven commitments:

  1. No Self-Checking – to prevent any errors, an additional, suitably trained and confident pharmacist should be available at all times to provide an independent second check
  2. Safe Staffing – staffing levels need to be sufficient in order to allow all legal, contractual and regulatory obligations to be met
  3. Access to a Pharmacist – a pharmacist must be available wherever patients expect immediate access to face-to-face expert advice on any medicine-related matters
  4. Adequate Rest – pharmacists must be able to take at least their statutory and contractual breaks and rest periods without interruption
  5. Respect for Professional Judgment – pharmacists should be able to make professional decisions in the workplace so that patient safety and professional standards come first
  6. Raising Concerns – pharmacists should be able to raise concerns without reprisal or fear
  7. Physical Safety – risks should be assessed, and preventative measures put in place so that patients and staff are kept safe.

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