World news wrapup: 19 April 2018

US pharmacist’s murder sentence appeal denied; Irish pharmacist saves a life; pharmacy app under fire

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma: A former pharmacist who fatally shot a teenage boy has had a request to reduce his life sentence denied.

Jerome Ersland received a “rare” hearing before Oklahoma’s parole board, reports Oklahoma’s News 4, seeking a commutation of his life sentence for the 2009 shooting.

Mr Ersland had always maintained that he acted in self-defence when two teenage boys attempted to rob the Reliable Pharmacy, but a jury was not convinced and he was convicted of first-degree murder.

NewsOK reports that the district attorney, David Prater, explained to the board that Mr Ersland chased one of the boys away and wounded the other, 16-year-old Antwun Parker.

While Mr Parker was unconscious, Mr Ersland took another gun, walked “calmly” over to the injured boy and shot him in the chest five times from 18 inches away, Mr Prater said.

“Mr Ersland likes to paint himself as a victim,” Prater said. “That’s not a victim. That’s an executioner.”

He said releasing Mr Ersland would mean there was no deterrence to vigilante action.

The request for a sentence reduction was denied and Mr Ersland will not be eligible for parole until 2049.


Dublin, Ireland: A quick-thinking pharmacist has been praised after administering an EpiPen to a teenage boy who was suffering an anaphylactic reaction.

Ireland’s The Journal reports that the boy, an American tourist, became ill after he ate a brownie which contained peanuts by mistake.

His mother went into the Hickey’s Pharmacy at around 9pm on Saturday night to ask for help, while her son stayed outside because he was having difficulty breathing and wanted fresh air.

The pharmacist brought him inside, gave him the adrenaline injection, closed the pharmacy and called paramedics; after seven minutes she administered another injection, after which the boy’s condition began to improve.

According to a witness the boy’s neck had swollen significantly and he was pulling at it and saying “please don’t let me die”.

Head pharmacist at Hickeys Pharmacy Group Tom Concannon praised the pharmacist, who had finished her training only last year.

“Anaphylactic shock is really dangerous, if he hadn’t gotten to a pharmacy or a dose of adrenalin, there’s a good chance he would have died – it is life threatening,” he said.

“Pharmacists are trained for those situations – but pharmacists ultimately don’t get called into those situations every day. It was after 9pm on a Saturday.”


UK: A “Deliveroo” style pharmacy app has come under fire from doctor groups, reports the UK’s Sun, following an incident in which a patient ordered the wrong drug from the app.

The Echo app allows consumers who are registered with an NHS England GP to have repeat scripts filled by an online pharmacy and have them delivered via Royal Mail for free. It also sends reorder reminders, reminders to visit GPs, and currently has a rating of 4.5 stars out of 5.

GPs and pharmacists in the Calderdale area in Yorkshire had expressed concerns about the “safety and governance” of the app, citing examples such as that of a patient who ordered the wrong strength of warfarin in error.

This “caused significant additional workload in the practice to follow up and check the request,” the Sun reports.

The Sun’s Digital Health Editor, Lizzie Parry, writes that Echo is “neither a pharmacy nor a dispensary and as a result is not regulated by the CQC (Care Quality Commission) or GMC (General Medical Council)”.  

Prof Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said that online pharmacies are only a good option for patients if they stick to GMC guidelines and have been identified as safe by the CQC.

But Echo co-founder Stephen Bourke told the Sun that the app has a “unique” team of doctors, pharmacists and technologists supporting it, and that the app could be more effective than community pharmacists because of its access to patient data.

This is because the app could have “better insight into whether or not there is a prescribing error, and whether or not a patient understands what they’ve asked for,” he said.


Teesside, UK: A pharmacist stole more than £6,500 (AUD$11,973) worth of steroids in less than a year after an “online coach” told him they would help him in his quest to become a bodybuilder, the Gazette Live reports.

Andrew Brown, who worked at a number of Boots pharmacies during this time, faced Teesside Magistrate’s Court on charges of theft by employee.

The theft was uncovered after discrepancies were noticed in the ordering systems of the pharmacies. Security footage later showed him putting the medicine in his own bag.

Prosecutor Rachael Dodsworth told the court that “This was a breach of trust over a period of time where the defendant had been placed in a high degree of trust as a relief pharmacist.

“He was covering various Boots pharmacies and used their ordering systems in order to obtain different varieties of anabolic steroids for his own use.

“He was interested in bodybuilding and wanted to get into competing. They were used for his own physical enhancement.”

Mr Brown pleaded guilty to the charge, with his counsel, Damian Sabino, submitting that he admitted the thefts to police as soon as he could, and had “self esteem issues”.

Brown will be sentenced at Teesside Crown Court at a date which is yet to be set.

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