World news wrapup: 19 July 2018


Pharmacy manager fired after profiling incident; pharmacy dispenser’s sentence appeal denied; complaint filed over “horrifying” anaphylaxis handling

Chicago, Illinois: CVS Health has “sincerely apologised” to a woman and terminated two employees following a high-profile incident in which a pharmacy manager accused the woman of counterfeiting.

Camilla Hudson, a black woman, presented a manufacturer coupon at the CVS Pharmacy, but the store’s manager, Morro Matson, told her that the coupon was fraudulent and proceeded to call police.

Ms Hudson filmed Mr Matson and another employee being “rude and nasty,” reports Business Insider, and then calling police. Chicago police have confirmed that they received a call from the pharmacy at the time, with an employee telling the service that an “assault” was taking place.

The dispatcher was told that “a female was inside the store threatening the staff and refusing to leave,” but Ms Hudson says that she did not make threats and that the staff did not even attempt to process the coupon, which she said was legitimate but they did not recognise.

Mr Matson’s employment, and that of an unnamed second CVS employee, has been terminated.

CVS said that it has “sincerely apologised to Ms. Hudson for her experience in one of our Chicago stores” and that a Region Director had contacted her as soon as the organisation was made aware of the incident.

“We have completed our investigation, and as a result the two colleagues who were involved are no longer employed by CVS Health.

“CVS Health does not tolerate any practices that discriminate against any customer and we are committed to maintaining a welcoming and diverse environment in our stores.

“We have firm non-discrimination policies in place to help ensure that all customers are treated with respect and dignity.

“Profiling or any other type of discriminatory behaviour is strictly prohibited.”

 

Delta, British Columbia: A woman has complained to British Columbia’s College of Pharmacists after she said her daughter was subjected to poor treatment when suffering anaphylaxis, CBC News Canada reports.

Sixteen-year-old Lily Brennan sought help from a London Drugs pharmacy when she began to experience symptoms of anaphylaxis but did not have an EpiPen or other medicine for her severe nut allergy with her.

“I was already crying because I was so scared,” Lily Brennan said. She said she and her friends had to ask twice at the store for an EpiPen, but it was not until her mother spoke to a store manager and threatened legal action that she was given one.

She had eaten gelato which she believed to be nut-free, but her lips began to burn and swell and her throat became tight.

According to London Drugs, the EpiPen was not administered right away because Lily could speak and did not show severe symptoms – but the organisation says the incident should have been handled differently.

She was given Benadryl tablets but was then found “on the floor” and a supervisor asked the pharmacist for an EpiPen so that Lily could inject herself. She was then taken by paramedics to hospital.

Her mother Caroline called the incident “horrifying and heartbreaking” and filed a complaint with the College, which did not comment on this specific case but said it is part of the pharmacist role to help patients who need emergency care.

 

London, UK: A Boots pharmacy dispenser who was jailed for five years has had her appeal knocked back at London’s Appeal Court, reports the Express and Star.

Tina Marie Astbury was convicted of supplying a Class A drug, Zomorph (morphine sulphate) to a neighbour, Jamie Farr, at a cost of £1 (AUD$1.78) each for around 200 tablets.

The drug had been lawfully prescribed for her husband, but Ms Astbury supplied it to the “chronic drug user” and chronically ill neighbour, who was subsequently found dead in his bed. Toxicology reports revealed that Mr Farr had ingested a “complex cocktail” of drugs.

Ms Astbury appealed the five-year sentence, claiming it was excessive, but Mrs Justice May said that her sentence was “severe, but it was not wrong in principle, not manifestly excessive”.

 

Collinsville, Virginia: Pharmacist Jerry R Harper, owner and operator of Family Discount Pharmacy at multiple locations in Virginia, was responsible for handling the company’s employment tax – but between 1998 and 2014, he didn’t do so lawfully.

Instead, he withheld more than US$5 million (AUD$6.77 million) from the Internal Revenue Service and used the funds to play the stock market, buy real estate, pay his son’s pharmacy school tuition and buy a new Jeep and jet ski.

13WSET reports that Mr Harper has pleaded guilty to the charges and is facing up to 10 years in prison, a period of supervised release, restitution and monetary penalties.

“Today’s guilty plea sends a clear message that this type of conduct will not be tolerated,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Zuckerman.

“Employment tax violations represent tens of billions of dollars in lost revenue to the U.S. Treasury and the Justice Department is committed to prosecuting individuals involved in these tax frauds.”

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