World news wrapup: 18 May 2017

Pharmacist turns kidnapper in Nigeria; US pharmacist loses license after giving morphine to kids; religious refusal in Texas; UK pharmacy bands together to combat malware

Lagos, Nigeria: Lagos police have arrested a pharmacist after he was suspected of kidnapping his boss.

Donatus Duru, who owns a multi-national pharmaceutical company in Lagos state, was abducted close to his office in Ilupeju and taken to another location, where a ransom of N500 million (AUD$2.14m) was demanded. His family could only pay N150 million (AUD$641,000) and the kidnappers threatened to kill Mr Duru.

Nigeria’s Guardian reports that the victim heard the voice of one of the kidnappers and recognised it as a pharmacist, Emeka, who had been a long-term employee.

“A few days before his escape, the victim said Emeka came and re-assured them that he had signed all the documents for the release of goods worth about N7 million from his warehouse and also came the next Thursday to boldly question why they had not killed him as agreed,” a police source told the Guardian.

The victim later managed to escape and alert police, who were not able to find the kidnappers, but did recover a large cache of weapons.

The victim and his family have gone into hiding.


Providence, Rhode Island – A former Rhode Island state senator has lost an appeal against the permanent revocation of his pharmacy license for mistakenly giving morphine to two children.

Leo Blais lost his license to practice pharmacy in 2013 when he gave morphine to an infant and a toddler in a dispensing error when he was the pharmacist in charge at Apothecare Compounding Solutions.

He was also the verifying pharmacist for both scripts, the Providence Journal reports. When the premises was inspected, the compounding areas were found to be “disorganised and dishevelled, making it difficult for a pharmacist to safely and effectively prepare prescriptions,” the Court heard.

Blais had also been investigated in 1999, when he admitted he had outdated and mislabelled drugs in the pharmacy. His license was revoked after the 2013 incident by then-state Health Director Michael Fine.

Mr Blais argued that Mr Fine had maliciously targeted him when permanently revoking his license.

However, Judge Daniel Procaccini rejected this argument and ruled to uphold the decision.

“This Court finds that under Mr Blais’s watch, a real-life nightmare occurred for two families that jeopardised the health and safety of two small children — the most vulnerable of patients,” Judge Procaccini said. “Simply put, but for a miracle, Mr Blais’s error did not have deadly consequences.”


Austin, Texas: Pharmacists could refuse service to gay or non-Christian customers on the basis of “sincerely held religious beliefs,” under an amendment to a pharmacy regulation bill under consideration in Texas.

The amended bill, which is yet to clear the state Senate, would also allow pharmacists to refuse to fill scripts, such as those for birth control or to treat HIV/AIDS, for religious reasons.

Katy Caldwell, CEO of Legacy Community Health, a non-profit health centre providing care at 22 Southeast Texas clinics, said in a statement, “I’m not sure how we can make sick people healthy if they can get turned away at the pharmacy counter.”


UK: Following the WannaCry malware attack over the weekend which attacked NHS systems, a group representing pharmacy chains is setting up a “crisis team”.

The Pharmaceutical Journal reports that the Company Chemists’ Association – which represents about half the UK’s pharmacy sector – contacted IT staff from large chains including Boots, Lloyds and Well, following the attack.

This allowed them to identify a communications issue in that IT staff at different chains were working independently to manage the problem. The crisis team is aimed at breaking down this communication barrier and allowing information to be “instantly shared and cascaded”.

Pharmacy patient services were not affected by the attack, the Journal reports.

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