World News Wrapup: 18 January 2018

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Kenya bans OTC codeine; Finns outline most worrisome OTCs; Pacific Pharmacists’ Group formalises

Kenya: Kenya’s Pharmacy and Poisons Board has banned the sale of all codeine-containing preparations without prescription.

According to Dr Fred Siyoi, the Board’s registrar, all dispensers of medicines must now check that customers presenting with a request for a codeine product have a valid prescription from a registered medical practitioner, explaining several points which ensure a prescription is valid.

“All marketing authorisation holders should make arrangements within the next six months to change packages of medicines that contain codeine to include clear and prominently positioned warnings on the label and the importance of not taking these medicines for longer than three days,” he told The Standard.

Around a month ago the Board had warned consumers not to self-diagnose and self-medicate, noting that risks included “making a wrong diagnosis, use of inappropriate medicines that can lead to adverse effects, resistance to medicines, masking the symptoms of a serious disease, delaying the required health intervention, and inaccurate dosages that can lead to over-dosing or under-dosing”.


New Zealand: Pharmac, NZ’s pharmaceutical purchasing agency, has thrown its support behind the country’s first Pacific Pharmacists’ Group, assisting it to hold its first meeting.

The Pacific Pharmacists’ Group began as a Facebook page set up by Wellington pharmacist Kasey Brown, to help and support pharmacists, assistants and technicians around New Zealand and the Pacific Islands.

Pharmac says it is proud to help the group establish itself more formally.

It says its support for the group stemmed from the development of its Pacific Responsive Strategy, which aims to help improve the health of all Pacific people by improving access to as well as the use of medicines.

“Pacific pharmacists are working with their communities every day to help them get the most out of their medicines,” says Angela Mansell, Pharmac acting director of engagement and implementation.

“We want to support Pacific pharmacists to do this so Pacific peoples better understand the medicines they take and how to use them in the best way,” says Dr Mansell.


Rhode Island, USA: CVS Pharmacy has announced that it will no longer digitally “touch up” beauty imagery used in its marketing, social media, store and website materials – or at least, not without warning consumers it is doing so.

CVS plans to introduce the “CVS Beauty Mark,” a watermark it will use to highlight that imagery has not been “materially” altered.

It defines “materially” altered as “changing or enhancing a person’s shape, size, proportion, skin or eye colour, wrinkles or any other individual characteristics”.

Helena Foulkes, President of CVS Pharmacy and Executive Vice President, said in a statement that as a woman, mother and president of a business which has mainly women as its customers, “I realise we have a responsibility to think about the messages we send to the customers we reach each day”.

“The connection between the propagation of unrealistic body images and negative health effects, especially in girls and young women, has been established.

“As a purpose-led company, we strive to do our best to assure all of the messages we are sending to our customers reflect our purpose of helping people on their path to better health.”

She says CVS Pharmacy has reached out to beauty brand partners to work on the issue, and has been “inspired” by the initiative’s positive reception.


Finland: The Association of Finnish Pharmacies has surveyed more than 700 pharmacies from around the country and come up with a list of nine OTC medicines they feel are frequently misused or abused.

The Association says that while 77% of consumers are aware that OTC medicines can have unwanted side effects, they are less careful about following directions than they are with prescription medicines.

“Some pharmacists say they feel as if certain customers’ misuse of the products will continue no matter what they say,” the group’s communications manager, Elina Aaltonen, told YLE.

“Customers don’t stop to think about the potency of the medicines in question.”

Of most concern was that some customers use products intended for short term use in the long term; or use other medicines to get intoxicated.

The top nine products were:

  1. Cough medicine (including those containing codeine, which are often used as intoxicants).
  2. Nasal decongestants, which are often used long-term. Pseudoephedrine is also a concern.
  3. Painkillers (anti-inflammatories and paracetamol).
  4. Flu treatment powdered drinks, particularly if consumers “double up” with a painkiller already contained in the drink.
  5. Laxatives.
  6. Cortisone lotions – pharmacists are worried about long-term use of cortisone “thinning” the skin.
  7. Antibiotic ointments.
  8. Motion sickness medication, high doses of which are taken to achieve intoxication.
  9. Aspirin.

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