World news wrapup: 21 February 2019

robber with handgun

US pharmacist facing charges over alleged hit plan on witness; Indian pharmacist attacked by rioters; Indiana considers ethical rights

Baltimore, Maryland: A pharmacist has been charged with hiring a person to murder a witness in a case in which he pleaded guilty to dispensing oxycodone and alprazolam outside the scope of his practice as a pharmacist and without legitimate medical purpose.

The Baltimore Sun reports that David Robinson was awaiting sentencing on these charges when he was brought into court to face new charges of murder for hire, retaliating against a witness and commission of a crime while on release.

Prosecutors allege that Mr Robinson paid US$5000 (AUD$6974) to kill the witness, but was then told that the murderer for hire wanted more money.

Court documents claim that in a telephone call with the alleged hit man, Mr Robinson said, “I already paid one mother [expletive] five, and he ain’t done [expletive], got me waiting, god damn, a whole year”.

He was later told that the murder had taken place and the extra money was still required of him, but when he asked for proof, was shown photographs which were “mocked up” to show the intended victim dead.

Drug Enforcement Administration Baltimore Office spokesperson Supervisory Special Agent Todd C. Edwards told the Sun that this case was “a perfect example of how pharmaceutical cases that involve doctors or pharmacists have the potential to be just as violent as a street gang case”.


Greater Noida, India: A Facebook post written by a pharmacist led to an altercation with a mob and the rescue of the pharmacist by police, the Times of India reports.

The pharmacist wrote a post which was interpreted by locals as “anti-national” and arrest by police after a complaint, though police later released him.

Around 60 people living in the village mobbed the man’s pharmacy and abused him, the Times reports. These people have all been booked for rioting, as well as other charges including unlawful assembly guilty of offence, attempt to murder, and criminal intimidation.

The Times does not specify what the controversial post contained, only stating that it has been removed.

The pharmacist’s family say the riot may have been more personally-motivated than it initially appeared, with his brother saying the pharmacist had previously been employed at a pharmacy owned by one of the attackers, and had left to open his own shop.


Indianapolis, Indiana: Pharmacists would have the right to refuse to dispense medicines which induce abortion under a new bill currently going through the state’s legislature.

Pharmacists would be able to refuse on ethical, moral or religious grounds if the bill passes.

The bill seeks to expand a current law which gives doctors and hospital employees the right to refuse on these grounds, and to give such rights to pharmacists, nurses and physician assistants, Associated Press reports.

According to Senator Jean Breaux (Democrat), the legislation should require health workers to let patients know that they have these objections before treatment is sought from them; however Senator Liz Brown, who sponsored the bill, says that the onus is on the patient to ask first.


UK: British Prime Minister Theresa May has expressed her support for community pharmacy and its potential to play a “stronger role” in health care.

Ms May wrote a letter supporting the 2019 Sigma Retail Community Pharmacy Conference, being held in Muscat, Oman, and thanked pharmacists for their “continued hard work and dedication to ensuring that patients can access the medicines and advice they need”.

“The Government wants to build upon the innovative success of community pharmacy, encouraging further collaboration and partnership with the NHS,” the PM wrote.

“As reflected by the NHS Long Term Plan, we are striving to effectively utilise the kill set and reach of community pharmacy, and it is good to see the sector continuing to explore ways in which this can be made a reality.

“Through increased collaboration and partnership, we can develop a stronger role for community pharmacy, making sure we encourage more people to use local pharmacies to meet their health needs and supporting them in caring for themselves and living healthier lifestyles.”

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