World news wrapup: 20 July 2017

US pharmacy student gives gift to the homeless; older UK pharmacists pushed out; Ohio husband and wife pharmacists indicted

Carmel, Indiana: When pharmacy student Sarah Cummins and her fiance cancelled their wedding a week before it was to take place, they discovered that the US$30,000 (AUD$38,400) event was non-refundable.

So Ms Cummins, who is studying pharmacy at Purdue University, invited people from four local homeless shelters to enjoy the meal at Carmel’s Ritz Charles.

“For me, it was an opportunity to let these people know they deserved to be at a place like this just as much as everyone else does,” Ms Cummins told the Indystar.

Guests from the Hoosier Veterans Assistance Foundation, Wheeler Mission, Third Phase Christian Centre and Dayspring Center enjoyed a meal of bourbon-glazed meatballs, goat cheese and roasted garlic bruschetta, chicken breast with artichokes and Chardonnay cream sauce, as well as wedding cake.

Guest Erik Jensen, who had been at the Wheeler Mission for five months, told the Indystar that the event was a great opportunity to spread love.

“Being homeless is kind of a big loss for all of these guys,” he said. “This is just a very nice thing to do.”

The donation spurred goodwill around the local area, with residents donating clothing to allow guests to dress up for the occasion.


UK: The Pharmacy Defence Association, the UK’s pharmacist trade union, says it has seen an unusual spike in the number of older pharmacists being subjected to disciplinary action in a bid to encourage them to leave their employment.

“We have recently noticed an unusual increase in the number of cases within community pharmacy involving longer serving pharmacists who are being called with no notice to meetings with local management, who then raise an alleged performance or conduct issue with them,” PDA said in a statement.

“Under the guise of a ‘without prejudice’ discussion, the management then offer the alternative of either a disciplinary process or an exit from the business with some small payment of compensation.”

It called on members to contact PDA if they became aware of a potential disciplinary process concerning their performance or conduct, or should the management talk to them about providing them with an exit package from the organisation.

PDA told UK pharmacy magazine Chemist + Druggist that the statement pertained to pharmacists aged 40-plus, and originally to a large chain which it preferred not to name; however since making the statement older pharmacists working for other large employers had expressed similar concerns.

“Anecdotally, it is something we have suspected for a long time, but possibly the pharmacy [funding] cuts have sped up the cull of older, more expensive pharmacists,” said PDA director of defence services Mark Pitt.


Columbus, Ohio: Two married pharmacists have been indicted on federal fraud and conspiracy charges which involve over US$3 million in fraudulent Medicaid charges.

The indictment also alleges that the husband, Darrell Bryant sexually assaulted a female heroin user and would “abuse his position of trust with some female patients for his own sexual gratification”.

Mr Bryant and wife Gifty Kusi, owners of Health and Wellness Pharmacy in Dublin, Ohio, as well as Dr Jornel Rivera, medical director of a medical centre owned by Mr Bryant, are charged with conspiracy to commit health care fraud and health care fraud.

The indictment alleges that they fraudulently received more than US$3 million from the Ohio Department of Medicaid and Medicaid Managed Care Organizations (MCOs) through multiple schemes including billing for compound creams that were not provided or not requested by patients, billing for counselling services that were not provided or billing for group counselling sessions as individual counselling services.  

“In the Health and Wellness Pharmacy case, the investigation found that people who legitimately needed drug treatment and counseling weren’t getting it – even though the company charged for it,” said Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.

“In the midst of the opioid epidemic in Ohio, it is critical that healthcare providers are rendering services that are meant to help Ohioans struggling with addiction.”


Springfield, Missouri: The only US state without a prescription drug monitoring program, Missouri, now has one on the horizon.

KY3 reports that Missouri Governor Eric Greitens has signed an executive order directing the state’s Department of Health and Senior Services to get to work on the program.

Mr Greitens said that the issue is personal for him, having lost a family member to a heroin overdose after his cousin became addicted to prescription medication.

Springfield pharmacist Jeremy Popek told KY3 that people are started on opioids too readily when other painkillers could help them effectively.

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