World news wrapup: 17 January 2019

Potential no-deal Brexit sees pharmacists needing greater powers to handle shortages; Mississippi ex-pharmacist arrested for selling drugs at florist shop; pharmacist saves coworker

UK: Britain’s National Pharmacy Association has warned Chemist + Druggist that “major disruption to medicines supplies is something to be avoided at all costs”.

With Prime Minister Theresa May’s proposed Brexit deal having been soundly defeated, the UK could end up leaving the EU without having arranged a deal if no such arrangement is in place before March 29.

NPA’s head of corporate affairs told the pharmacy publication that “what may seem like parliamentary games are in fact very serious matters for our members and their patients”.

The UK’s Department of Health and Social Care has proposed a protocol to handle serious medicines shortages, which is due before Parliament later in January. This would allow pharmacists to dispense alternative drugs in line with the protocol instead of scripts, and without needing to get in touch with the prescriber first.

Mr Jones told C+D that the NPA and other pharmacy stakeholders have lobbied for, as it is a “sensible contingency”.

He also called on legislators to put further measures in place which would allow pharmacies to share medicines with each other.

“Brexit is bringing to a head a number of issues that should have been grappled with years ago. Medicines shortages have been a growing problem for months, so while Brexit appears to be exacerbating the situation, it is not the root cause,” Mr Jones said.

“By now it’s plain that there are structural faults in the medicines supply chain that too often leave patients waiting and pharmacists taking the rap for a situation beyond their control.”


Nettleton, Mississippi: A retired, but still registered, pharmacist has been arrested after allegedly illegally running a pharmacy from a florist shop.

The Flower Garden, owned by 76-year-old John Hall, was raided by drug agents – who found what WLBT3 described as an “assortment” of medicines.

Mr Hall has been charged with felony sale of tapentadol, felony possession with intent to see of distribute soma, and midsdemeanour practicing medicine without a licence.

According to Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics Director John Dowdy, further charges could be on their way.


Melrose, Tennessee: A pharmacist has been credited with saving the life of a co-worker after he collapsed at a Kroger store.

Charles Fisher, a long-term employee, reported for work one day at 4am as normal, but collapsed around midday.

Colleague Shaneika Walker, who was close at hand at the time, told WSMV News 4 that she instantly saw that Mr Fisher had become unconscious.

“I checked for a pulse and I couldn’t find one and he was starting to turn a little bit purple,” the CPR-certified pharmacist said.

Ms Walker had gained CPR certification in 2010 but this was the first time she put the knowledge into practice. With help from two customers, she was able to revive Mr Fisher.

“You would think I’d be nervous but in my head I’m going “OK just give chest compressions until EMS gets here and then they’ll take over and he’ll be fine,” she said.

Emergency services attended seven minutes later and Mr Fisher was hospitalised.

He has thanked Ms Walker and is now hoping the story will encourage other people to invest in CPR training.


Buffalo, New York: A pharmacist has been charged with prescription fraud after allegedly prescribing 1,874 doses of drugs including Alprazolam, Phentermine, Cialis, and Synjardy – in various strengths – to himself.

Patrick R McQuade, who worked for Rite Aid until his employment was terminated in December 2018, is facing a federal charge of possession of a controlled substance by fraud.

The Niagara Gazette reports that Mr McQuade, who is currently working as a clinical staff pharmacist at the Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, could be facing up to four years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The findings of a Rite Aid internal investigation alleged that Mr McQuade had created fictional patient accounts, allowing him to create fictional scripts.

Prosecutors say he created 20 of the profiles and 47 fraudulent scripts.

Mr McQuade has pleaded not guilty to the charge and has been released on several conditions, including that he not dispense controlled substances.

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