World News Wrapup: 15 July 2021

gavel court legal

Transgender woman wins suit against pharmacist; two pharmacists sentenced for diverting $1.1 million worth of drugs; Irish pharmacy sees 5k vaccine enquiries in just a few days

Tel Aviv, Israel: An Israeli supermarket chain will pay a transgender woman more than AU$13,000 after a pharmacist referred to her with male pronouns, according to a ruling by the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court.

In August 2018, the pharmacist insisted on calling a customer – named Isabel – a man and using male-gendered language, despite Isabel insisting that she be referred to as a woman, reports The Jerusalem Post.

A court transcript reportedly revealed that Isabel had approached the pharmacist and asked to be referred to as a woman, and did not understand why she was being misgendered.

The pharmacist said that she “knew [Isabel] was a man because of their voice”.

In the ruling, the judge ruled that this constituted defamation, noting that Isabel wore women’s clothing and used female-gendered pronouns and conjugation.

“Isabel left no room for doubt her desire to be addressed as a woman, as well as the harm experienced due to the pharmacist’s insistence on addressing her as a man,” the judge said.

The supermarket chain had originally argued that the pharmacist’s actions did not constitute defamation because biologically, Isabel is still a man and something that is true cannot constitute slander.

However they were ordered to pay Isabel a total of NIS 32,500 (AU$13,287) in compensation and legal fees.


Birmingham, UK: Two pharmacists have been sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court to 27 months and 30 months respectively for diverting hundreds of thousands of doses of addictive prescription drugs from pharmacies during 2015 and 2016.

The black-market value of the drugs is estimated at around £600,000 (AU$1.1 million).

Investigators who visited the pharmacy found that, of the hundreds of thousands of doses of Zolpidem purchased from wholesalers, only a small percentage had been dispensed against prescriptions. This left almost 600,000 pills unaccounted for, said the UK Government.

One of the pharmacists later admitted diverting the medicines to another pharmacy, while the other claimed that they were exported to Trinidad.

It is a serious criminal offence to sell controlled, unlicensed or prescription-only medicines in this way, said medicines regulatory agency enforcement officer Grant Powell.

“Anyone who sells medicines illegally is not only breaking the law but clearly shows a total disregard for the health and welfare of anyone who may purchase them.”


Amaravati, India: An Indian state has reportedly made changes to appoint clinical pharmacists to handle drug administration to patients in hospitals.

The move was made in response to “widespread complaints” about drug mismanagement during the COVID-19 pandemic, where prescription of high doses of steroids and antibiotics resulted in new health disorders among patients.

Amendments to the Pharmacy Act 1948 and Pharmacy Practice Regulations 2015 will appoint Doctor of Pharmacy graduates to exclusively handle drug administration in hospitals in Andhra Pradesh, according to The Times of India.

“This is the first step for ensuring that clinical pharmacists get a place in hospitals. We are now going to work with the central and state governments to get it implemented in all hospitals,” said Dr Sai Kumar Katam, national president of the Doctor of Pharmacy Association.

“India accounts for 5.2 million injuries annually with medication errors and adverse drug reactions,” said Dr Sai Kumar.

“The need of the hour is to detect and manage adverse drug reactions, [and] assist physicians in individualising the drug dosage regimen.”


West Clare, Ireland: A pharmacist said he received thousands of enquiries over a five-day period for the COVID-19 vaccine after Health Minister Stephen Donnelly’s unexpected announcement that pharmacies would be administering the vaccine to 18-34-year-olds.

Sean Hurst of Hurst Pharmacy in Kilkee, Co Clare, told the Irish Examiner that there has been “phenomenal” demand for the vaccine.

He claimed he received an estimated 4,500 enquiries over a five-day period following the announcement.

“Words can’t explain the magnitude of the interest. It was beyond belief,” said Mr Hurst. “We got no information … before the announcement.”

He plans to vaccinate about 10 people daily as he has to fit them in with his normal dispensing duties. It is very difficult to get locum pharmacists because they are already working in mass vaccination centres, said Mr Hurst.

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