World news wrapup: 15 October 2020

Cocaine. Image courtesy US Drug

Pharmacy owner allegedly sent cocaine to DEA official after investigation began; another Lloyds pharmacist refuses emergency contraception; transgender patients lose access to medicines

Queens, New York: Pharmacy owner Dimitrios Lymberatos has been charged with obstruction of justice, for arranging for a package of cocaine to be sent to the home address of a Drug Enforcement Administration Diversion Investigator who was looking into Mr Lymberatos’ pharmacy.

Audrey Strauss, Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Raymond P Donovan, Special Agent in Charge of the New York Division of the DEA, and Dermot Shea, the Commissioner of the New York City Police Department, said in a joint statement that Mr Lymberatos turned himself in to the DEA.

“When Dimitrios Lymberatos learned his pharmacy was under investigation by the DEA, he allegedly took sinister action against a Diversion Investigator assigned to his case,” said Ms Strauss.

“Lymberatos allegedly sought to interfere with the investigation through intimidation, by sending cocaine to the Investigator’s home, potentially causing physical harm.  

“Lymberatos’s misguided message was received loud and clear – and he now faces the possibility of a lengthy prison term for his potentially harmful attempt to obstruct law enforcement.”


London, England: The Lloyds pharmacy chain has again had to apologise to a patient who went to a branch to access emergency contraception, but was refused it by the pharmacist.

The Guardian reports that 41-year-old “Charlotte” went to the South London pharmacy and was told that the pharmacist would not give her emergency contraception “for religious reasons”.

The pharmacist did say the medicine could be ordered online but did not ask whether the issue was urgent, or offer other solutions or advice.

“You have to take the medication within five days, and I was four days in, so it was actually quite urgent, but I shouldn’t have to justify it,” Charlotte told The Guardian.

She said she respected the pharmacist’s beliefs but that they should “not encroach on a woman’s right to choose”.

“I felt her beliefs were imposed on me, and we shouldn’t live in that world. It’s not personal to that lady, but Lloyds Pharmacy have to improve their policy, there needs to be training,” she said.

Last year Lloyds apologised to another woman, also aged 41, who had been refused emergency contraception for “personal reasons” which were undisclosed by the pharmacist.


UK: A private clinic which manages transgender patients says a move by the UK’s General Pharmaceutical Council has left up to 3000 patients unsure whether they will be able to access their medicines, reports Forbes.

Forbes reports that transgender people finding that NHS delays are a barrier to treatment have been accessing GenderGP and obtaining medications from the Clear Chemist pharmacy. GenderGP is owned by a Hong-Kong registered entity.

Duncan Rudkin, Chief Executive of the General Pharmaceutical Council, said in a statement that, “We are looking into concerns raised about Clear Chemist as a matter of urgency and will take any actions necessary to safeguard patients and the public. 

“We carried out a targeted visit of the pharmacy earlier this week and looked in detail at whether the pharmacy was meeting the required standards, including in relation to managing risks relating to the services it is providing and in safeguarding vulnerable patients. We are now considering what further regulatory action to take.

“In the meantime, the superintendent pharmacist of Clear Chemist has advised us that he has taken the decision to only dispense prescriptions to patients over 18 years old where the patient has given consent to speak with their GP about their prescribed treatment.  

“We are working with the pharmacy on key issues including signposting to other services and continuity of care for their patients.”

Transgender and sexual health stakeholders have reportedly called the GPhC’s move “irresponsible”.


Prince George, British Columbia: Mum Heather Garfield has told CBC Canada of a pharmacist’s assistance with helping her seven-year-old deal with his fear of monsters.

Jakob had started coming into his parents’ bed at night, worried about what might be lurking outside his room or under his bed.

Some time ago, Jakob’s older brother had invented a “monster spray” to squirt around his room, but Jakob was dubious about this solution, given the solution seemed unofficial.

So Ms Garfield went to her local Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacy for the real thing.

“She told me that she had one kind of weird request,” said pharmacy manager Jepal Patel. “I wanted to help her … I really loved her idea.”

Ms Garfield and Jakob went home with a bottle labelled, “Spray around bedroom at night before bedtime and repeat as needed”.

She reported that she has convinced Jakob that the spray will help keep him safe, though Jakob has also reasoned that, “if monster spray is real that means monsters are real”.

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