World news wrapup: 22 August 2019

berlin wall

Queen’s pharmacist slammed for selling homeopathic Berlin Wall; Canterbury hospital pharmacists to walk off the job; customer satisfaction in the US

UK: The pharmacist by appointment to Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles has been soundly criticised for selling a homeopathic remedy which reportedly includes ground pieces of the Berlin Wall.

Berlin Wall-containing product is claimed by homeopaths (though not by this specific pharmacy) to help improve relationships according to the Daily Mail, and to treat asthma, headaches, aggression, depression and insomnia, according to the Telegraph.

Ainsworths, which markets itself as “the first name in homeopathy,” has held a Royal warrant since 1980.

It is reportedly charging up to £120 (AUD$215) for a bottle of 1000mL in liquid potency (the product contains 23% alcohol), or £4.20 (AUD$7.53) for a 1g vial of lactose tablets.

Edzard Ernst, emeritus professor of contemporary medicine at Exeter University, has written a new book in which he condemns homeopathy, including the Berlin Wall product.

“Homeopaths do not believe it is a pharmacological action, but it is a sort of vital force that is acting,” he said.

“So the vital force, the spiritual force that was in the Berlin Wall, the intention that was in the Berlin Wall, is in the remedy.

“It is not only bonkers but ineffective.”


Canterbury, New Zealand: 98 hospital pharmacy workers at the Canterbury District Health Board are set to go on strike for four days from today (Thursday) according to Stuff.

Stuff reports that while treatments will not be postponed during this period, patients will be less likely to see pharmacist involvement in their case.

According to Denise Tairua, an advisor at APEX, the union representing the pharmacy technicians and pharmacy assistants employed at area hospitals, union members have not yet been presented with a formal offer despite bargaining for a new agreement having commenced last July.

The workers are hoping for a 3% annual pay rise, plus increased on-call rates.

“This untimeliness has contributed to and exacerbated the staffing issues faced by Canterbury DHB Pharmacy and has left our members feeling frustrated and undervalued,” Ms Tairua said.

A previous strike notice had been withdrawn after the March 15 terrorist attack at mosques in Christchurch, and a meeting about the new collective agreement has not been held since May 2.


Costa Mesa, California: America’s pharmacy sector continues to enjoy superior levels of customer satisfaction in both the brick-and-mortar and mail order segments, according to the J.D. Power 2019 U.S. Pharmacy Study.

“As technology companies promise to change the way Americans address their pharmacy needs, our data suggests that changing such entrenched behavior will be an uphill battle,” said Greg Truex, Managing Director of Health Intelligence at J.D. Power.

“Customers enjoy visiting their brick-and-mortar pharmacy and they get a great deal of satisfaction from speaking directly with pharmacists.

“However, the potential for technology disruption is there. Although the frequency of use of digital solutions is low, early adopters are showing high levels of satisfaction.”

The study found that thorough discussions with pharmacists was correlated with higher customer satisfaction, and that most pharmacy customers that communicate with the pharmacist and staff do so in-person (89%), even though customers that use email or online live chat to interact with the pharmacist or staff are equally or more satisfied.

Only 20% of customers use a pharmacy’s mobile app, but those who did have satisfaction scores as much as 23 points higher than those who do not.


Ireland: Several pharmacies have been alleged to have been making fraudulent pharmacy claims over the last 10 years, thus defrauding Ireland of large amounts of money, reports

The country’s Health Service Executive is reportedly conducting at least 10 investigations against a number of pharmacies, located in north Dublin, Wicklow, Louth and Limerick, as well as others. says that most of these investigations are related to “phased dispensing” or staged supply.

Pharmacies can claim an initial fee of €5 (AUD$8.18) for the first dispensing, and then around €3 for each of the subsequent claims.

The HSE suspects several of the pharmacies under investigation have been overclaiming dispensing fees.

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