World news wrapup: 19 November 2020

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Pharmacist allegedly helped man attempt suicide; farm worker sentenced for veterinary pharmacist’s killing; pharmacy in US COVID-19 jab agreement

Ann Arbor, Michigan: A pharmacist has had his license to practise suspended and his pharmacy closed, after regulators were told that he supplied suicide drugs to a man and told him how to use them.

A state Board of Pharmacy subcommittee investigated pharmacist Dr Xavier Tato and found him to be in violation of several drug diversion, competency and character regulations. The subcommittee then filed a complaint, reports Michigan Live.

It alleged that Dr Tato had been visited by an existing patient who had chronic pain and was looking to suicide.

Dr Tato allegedly explained to the man how to use certain pharmaceuticals to achieve suicide, and then sold them to him.

Investigators spoke to the patient’s primary care physician, who said he did not need the medicine he was sold by the pharmacist.

The patient attempted suicide using Dr Tato’s alleged instructions but was unsuccessful, and was hospitalised.

He got in touch with police and told them that he had been sold the drugs, giving them as evidence the syringes and vials he had bought.

An investigator spoke to the pharmacist, reportedly admitted to the sale and to explaining how the patient could kill himself – and did not get in touch with the man’s doctor or a mental health professional.

A sign in the window of Dr Tato’s store, the Stadium Pharmacy, says that it is closed “temporarily” and “I hope to reopen in early February once this suspension is over. God willing”.


Gittisham, England: A 27-year-old man has been sentenced to an indefinite hospital order after he strangled a veterinary pharmacist to death.

Kate Bevan, 53, was initially thought to have been killed by accident, after she was found dead in a bull pen at a Gittisham farm where she had been living after she began to help care for the animals there.

The BBC reports that farm worker Luigi Palmas had admitted manslaughter by diminished responsibility, at the Exeter Crown Court.

He said that he was affected by schizophrenia at the time.

Ms Bevan’s husband, Michael Bevan, paid tribute to his wife, saying that the veterinary pharmacist, author and former senior manager had been “a force of nature”.

“Whatever she did she gave 200% and she was so special and so lovely and she is going to be missed by so many people,” he told the BBC.

The Court heard that Mr Palmas had a long history of random violence targeting people unknown to him, as well as his family members, caused by paranoid schizophrenia.

He had been free of symptoms for a year by the time he moved to Devon.

Prosecutors told the Court that there had been no reason for the killing, which took place after Mr Palmas “waited in the shadows” before attacking the pharmacist.


Washington, DC: Decision-makers in the US intend to eventually have accessing a COVID-19 vaccine be similar to receiving a flu jab, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

US federal health officials have confirmed an agreement with the nation’s pharmacies, which will be asked to administer free vaccines to protect against the novel coronavirus, if and when an approved vaccine becomes available.

“The vast majority of Americans live within five miles of a pharmacy,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.

He said the agreement will be “a critical step toward making sure all Americans have access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines when they are available”.

The agreement is expected to work in a bridging capacity, allowing pharmacies to distribute free vaccines as they become available, before access is handed off to the private market.


Garrison, Northern Ireland: A pharmacist has been hailed as having saved the life of a 14-year-old boy, after she noticed that he was exhibiting symptoms of diabetes.

When Garrison woman Michelle Duffy brought her son Cameron to the local pharmacy for passport photos, pharmacist Siobhan McNulty noticed that the then 12-year-old had lost a significant amount of weight, reports the Belfast Telegraph.

“I had noticed that Cameron had got very skinny and was drinking loads of water. He said a few times how much he was starving and needed chocolate, but we assumed it was his age and hormones,” Ms Duffy told the Telegraph.

“We had gone into Melvin’s pharmacy to get Cameron’s passport photographs as he needed a new passport for a school trip to Manchester. Siobhan has known us all for years and the first thing she said was how Cameron had lost a lot of weight.

“Siobhan started asking him questions about whether he was thirsty and about how much he was drinking. Cameron said he was always thirsty and drinking around four to five litres a day.

“The horror on Siobhan’s face I’ll never forget—I knew straight away something was wrong.”

Ms McNulty checked Cameron’s blood sugar and found it was dangerously high, and she contacted a doctor who asked her to call an ambulance. Ms Duffy then drove her son to the local hospital, where he was found to be in diabetic ketoacidosis.

“As far as I’m concerned Siobhan saved my son’s life and that’s not being dramatic,” Ms Duffy said.

“We’re totally indebted to her. She was his guardian angel that day.”

She said she was speaking to the media to raise awareness alongside World Diabetes Day.

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