World news wrapup: 20 February 2020

Restraining order against pharmacist who allegedly threatened to “shoot up his workplace;” ex-pharmacist alleges firing after refusing to sample cannabis stock; Hong Kong “like World War Three”

San Diego, California: A pharmacist has allegedly threatened to “shoot up his workplace and burn it down,” NBC San Diego reports, after which his guns were seized and he was taken into temporary custody.

According to reporter Steven Luke, a statement from the hospital said the pharmacist had made comments regarding specific employees as well as threats against Rady Children’s Hospital.

“According to a gun violence emergency protective order filed by a San Diego police officer last Friday, 54-year-old pharmacist Augusto Siason is the man behind the threats,” Mr Luke told NBC.

Mr Siason is a registered pharmacist with a “clear license,” however he is not currently permitted to go to the hospital after it filed a temporary restraining order against him.


Hong Kong: Pharmacy employees in Hong Kong have told the New York Times that due to fear over the COVID-19 novel coronavirus, life in pharmacy is currently “like World War Three”.

May Tang, who works at the Kit Pharm Dispensary Ltd, told reporter Isabella Kwai that staff are becoming fatigued as patients queue for hours to buy face masks, disinfectant and basics such as toilet paper.

The price of a box of masks has risen from about HKD$50 (AUD$9.60) at the end of 2019 to twice that, and the products have become scarce.

One Sydney pharmacy recently told the Daily Telegraph that it was selling a lot of masks to people from Hong Kong and China, who were sending them back home.

Ms Tang told the Times that she believes the Government should have moved more swiftly to manage the crisis, which has to date killed one person and infected 61 others in Hong Kong.


Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania: A former pharmacist alleges that her employment at a medical marijuana dispensary was terminated after she refused to inappropriately treat a medical condition with the store’s stock.

The Washington Times reports that Carol Kopiak had been the victim of a “robbery and hostage situation” during the course of her work at another place of employment, and the owner of the marijuana dispensary suggested she investigate whether she had post traumatic stress disorder.

Ms Kopiak says in a lawsuit against the dispensary, Justice Grown, that her doctor did not consider it medically necessary for her to use marijuana for this, which meant she did not have documents required to access the drug.

She alleges that when she informed her employer of this, she was abruptly terminated, despite earlier only receiving positive reviews.


Pontypridd, Wales: Flooding and landslides have seen a Boots branch in South Wales forced to close, reports Chemist + Druggist.

After Storm Dennis caused “multiple floods and landslides” in the Rhondda Cynon Taf area – which according to the South Wales Fire and Rescue Service was the area most badly hit – the weather event was declared a “major incident”.

No members of staff were at the Pontypridd Boots branch when the flooding began, a spokesperson for Boots told C+D, and the store was closed.

However the spokesperson said that the group was “working with the local health board and other local pharmacies so that customers can still get their prescriptions” and that “we’re very proud of the way our store team is dealing with the situation and we’re doing all we can to reopen our pharmacy as soon as possible.”

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