Pharmacy chain unfairly treated in Italian Mafia story; Lloydspharmacy apologises after woman denied emergency contraception; Canadian town in push to quit smoking for a day
UK: A current affairs program which investigated a link between diverted medicines, the NHS supply chain and the Italian mafia unfairly implicated community pharmacies, reports Chemist + Druggist.
C+D digital reporter Eliza Slawther writes that Channel 4’s Dispatches: How safe are your medicines? documentary looked into how between 2011 and 2014, criminal gangs stole medicines from hospitals and trucks in Italy – medicines which were then sold by fake companies to legitimate wholesalers, including one which operated in the UK.
Ms Slawther writes that while the story does highlight the importance of scrutinising the supply chain, “the decision to implicate community pharmacies without evidence was, in my view, irresponsible scaremongering”.
Channel Four said that Trident Pharmaceuticals had purchased some of these medicines – Trident is owned by the US company McKesson, which also owns Lloydspharmacy.
It then ran part of an advertisement for Lloydspharmacy, with the Channel Four reporter explaining the link between the entities.
“However, the programme did not prove that illegitimate medicines were ever dispensed by a Lloydspharmacy branch,” wrote Ms Slawther.
“I would argue that the placement of the multiple’s advert set a sinister and provocative tone, which unfairly targeted the chain.”
The documentary gave the “strong impression” that Lloydspharmacy had actually dispensed stolen and potentially unsafe medicines.
McKesson told C+D that it was disappointed that Channel Four did not discuss the EU Falsified Medicines Directive, which came into effect in February this year and allows verification that prescription medicines are safe, via safety features including a unique barcode.
Brighton, England: Lloydspharmacy has apologised after a woman was denied emergency contraception – which she had already paid for – because of a pharmacist’s personal beliefs.
Siana, a 41-year-old mother of one from Hollingdean, told the Brighton and Hove News that she was prescribed EC after an online consultation with a Lloydspharmacy doctor on Sunday.
After paying £30 (AUD$54.81) for the script, she drove to the only open branch of Lloydspharmacy in Brighton to collect the medication.
She rang the pharmacy from the car park to ensure that it was ready, but the pharmacist, a locum, told her he refused to dispense it for “personal reasons” which he did not explain.
Sian told the News that she was “absolutely furious that a big successful company like Lloyds think it’s acceptable to offer a service that blatantly discriminates against women by having their only store that is open on a Sunday staffed by a lone pharmacist who refuses to provide essential women’s health services like emergency contraception”.
She was told she could either go to Newhaven, which Google Maps places a 19-minute drive away.
She said that in her situation, she was able to wait up to three days for a refund of the £30 she had paid and go to Newhaven, but other women, particularly teenage girls with limited incomes, might not be able to do so.
“How is it acceptable that Lloyds create a situation where someone who will not dispense is working alone in the only branch open?” she said.
Lloydspharmacy has issued an apology and said it will investigate the matter.
“We adhere to the GPhC guidelines which allow pharmacists to refuse to dispense medication that goes against their personal beliefs,” it said.
“However, we make sure our pharmacists are aware that this should only ever happen if there is adequate alternative care available for the patient.
“As part of our own guidance, we encourage our pharmacists to use their professional judgement, but they must always put the patient first.”
Cochrane, Canada: Pharmacist Kelly Kimmett has just co-hosted an event encouraging every person in his town to quit smoking – for at least a day.
On the eve of his retirement, Mr Kimmett ran a quit-smoking clinic on Saturday, which he hopes will encourage locals – and Canadians more widely – to kick the habit. 660citynews.com reports that he hopes the Quit Smoking Day will be rolled out Canada-wide in the future.
Mr Kimmett, who has owned and run the TWO Pharmacy for the last 30 years, lost his father – who had eventually quit smoking and become a “militant” non-smoker – to lung cancer.
He said he hoped the initiative would prevent other locals from losing loved ones in a similar way.
The event included a pancake breakfast at the pharmacy, a presentation from Alberta Action on Smoking and Health, and a presentation on NRT products and smoking cessation programs.
All attendees had the opportunity to win an airline ticket to any location in North America – with extra entries available for every package of tobacco they handed in on the day, reported Calgary CTV News.
The local council has declared the day “Cochrane Quits Smoking Day”.
Stirling, Scotland: Pharmacy dispenser James Christie has been placed on the sex offenders register after a court found him guilty of making sexualised and inappropriate comments, gestures and noises at work.
At the Bannerman’s Pharmacy in Dunblane, Perthshire, Mr Christie’s inappropriate behaviour included simulating a sex act with an ice block, playing music from the popular erotic Fifty Shades of Grey film series and grinding on the pharmacy’s shop fittings.
One witness had told the court in Stirling that Mr Christie would often make “sex noises” in her ear, reports the Daily Record.
He had denied the charges and his legal representative told the court he had been indulging in “banter”.
A charge of non-sexually assaulting a woman by pinging a rubber band at her bottom was dropped.
Mr Christie will be sentenced in July.