World news wrapup: 18 October 2019

Family sues after man dies following dispensing error; anonymous donors pay off all patient debts at one pharmacy; pharmacist prescribing jump in the UK

Southaven, Mississippi: A man has died after a CVS pharmacist made a dispensing error, reports Local 24 News Memphis.

The family of Jeffrey Dale Simmons is suing both the pharmacist and CVS itself in federal court, seeking US$1 million (AUD$1,474,274).

In July 2017, Mr Simmons was given a script for his usual medication, Carvedilol, which he filled at the CVS Pharmacy located in Southaven.

The script was for 6.25mg, his usual dosage; however pharmacy records allegedly show that the medication dispensed was 25mg.

According to the lawsuit, Mr Simmons took the medicine for about a month, but died in late August.

Two months later, the pharmacy called his prescriber with queries about the script, and a nurse – who by coincidence was a relative of the patient – notified the pharmacy that he had died.

It is alleged that the employee then told the nurse that the wrong strength had been dispensed.

The lawsuit claims that the pharmacist should have noticed the mistake earlier, and that if this had happened, Mr Simmons could have been saved.


Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea: PNG is suffering from a shortage of pharmacy workers among other serious problems, reports the Post Courier – outlining concerns expressed at the Western Pacific Pharmacists Forum this week.

Factors in the shortage are reported as low wages, heavy workloads and a general lack of recognition of the profession.

The inaugural Forum, held in Port Moresby, included a presentation by World Health Organization Western Pacific region technical officer pharmaceuticals Eric Salenga, who identified leading causes of inefficiency including underuse of generics, and use of substandard and counterfeit medicines.

WPPF’s John Jackson said that “reducing health care costs while improving and sustaining safety, efficacy and quality, difficulty in the transition of care, weak referral mechanisms in the health care system are the other challenges faced in the region”.

Meanwhile also in Port Moresby, the 6th biennial pharmaceutical scientific conference heard from the University of Papua New Guinea’s school of medicine and health sciences Associate Professor Jackson Lauwo, who said that from 1998 to 2018 only 308 pharmacists have graduated.

He said the WHO recommends a pharmacist-to-population ratio of one to 2,300 – but PNG’s ratio is one to 18,400.

“the school needs to train more pharmacists subject to resources up to about 50 per year, but we cannot because of funding issues.”


UK: A new report shows that pharmacist prescribing has risen by 55% in just one year, says the Pharmaceutical Journal.

A Care Quality Commission report has called for more use of pharmacists in primary care networks, finding that over 2018/19, pharmacist prescribing jumped – though non-medical prescribing as yet still only accounts for 4% of the 1.1 billion items prescribed that year.

The report stated that greater involvement from both clinical and community pharmacists across primary care networks could lead to better health outcomes for individual patients and the wider local population.

Their contribution to medicines optimisation could “improve both the quality and safety of people’s care,” it said.


Novi Travnik, Bosnia and Herzegovina: An anonymous married couple have paid all debts owed by patients to the PZU Forma Pharmacy in the city of Novi Travnik, reports the Sarajevo Times.

Pharmacy employee Danijel Jukic told Radio Sarajevo that he wished the couple would identify themselves.

“They were a married couple who were visiting their mother in their hometown, Novi Travnik. They walked into our pharmacy yesterday to pay off all our patients’ debts,” he said.

The pharmacy had allowed a number of patients to incur debts because it had a policy of never refusing to dispense a medicine for a patient who could not afford it.

“We are sensitive especially to children and the elderly. We found a solution and helped the patients, but that is why we owed a larger amount of money. Maybe people recognized it in some way,” Mr Jukic said.

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