World news wrapup: 23 August 2018

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Woman sues pharmacist over the robbery she committed; young pharmacist’s disappearance highlights treatment barriers; value of pharmacists in care homes outlined

Portland, Oregon: A woman who robbed a bookstore in southeast Portland is suing her doctor and pharmacist, as well as a nurse practitioner, over the incident, reports Oregon Live.

Hilary Leah Bishop claims that she was in a dissociative state as a result of the medicines she was prescribed and dispensed when she robbed the store, wielding a fake gun. She is currently serving a three-year sentence for the robbery and was also convicted of robbing another store the previous day.

Naturopathic doctor Dr Vanessa Esteves and psychiatric nurse practitioner Tiffany McClean prescribed “lexipro, Wellbutrin, clonazepan, omeprazole, tramadol hydrochloride, tramadol HCI, hydroxyzine pamoate, omeprazole, propranolol HCI, bupropian HCI ER (XL), cymbalta, escitalopram, and hydroxyzine” to Ms Bishop, the lawsuit states (sic). She was later also prescribed duloxetine as well.

On or about August 11, Ms Bishop filled the prescription at Albertsons Companies, Safeway Pharmacy and began “taking the prescription as indicated and with consent and direction of pharmacist,” says the lawsuit.

By the 15th she experienced symptoms of euphoria and “became subject to a dissociative state,” dressed in all black and a ski mask and robbed the bookstore.

Her former husband said that she was normally “very anti-gun”.

Ms Bishop is seeking US$49,000 (AUD$66559) from Dr Esteves and the unidentified pharmacist, as well as a not-yet-determined amount in lost wages.


Zhangjiajie, China: The disappearance of a young pharmacist has highlighted the difficulty in accessing medical care in the country, reports The Independent.

Twenty-six-year-old Tang Gongwei was working as a pharmacist in Hengyang when he was diagnosed with stomach cancer. He told his father, who said he was willing to borrow money to pay for treatment, but only days later the young pharmacist disappeared.

He left a note on his pillow asking for forgiveness, saying that “if I leave my parents not only overcome with the grief of losing their son but also struggling financially in their twilight years, then it’s a sin that can’t be forgiven”.

He then caught a train to the central China tourist destination of Zhangjiajie, where his parents continue to search for him.

Mr Tang was earning around CNY2350 (AUD$467) per month, and did have insurance through the hospital where he worked, but The Independent reports that many cancer treatments are not covered and local governments often do not reimburse patients, despite health care reforms introduced a decade ago.

If anyone should have been able to access treatment, it should have been a health professional like Mr Tang, write reporters Sui-Lee Wee and Elsie Chen.


UK: The director of pharmacy and member experience at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society has written to England’s 44 sustainability and transformation partnership leads to outline the value pharmacists can contribute in care homes.

He says that pharmacists and pharmacy technicians in these facilities could save the NHS around £135m (AUD$237 million) each year.

The Pharmaceutical Journal reports that the letter is the third of a series of briefings to STPs, and follows a February 2018 announcement that the Pharmacy Integration Fund will be utilised to place 180 clinical pharmacists, as well as 60 technicians, in such homes over the next two years.

Mr Turner writes that the savings will be obtained via medicines interventions, and a reduction in hospital admissions; pharmacists and technicians will also be able to ensure the appropriate use of antipsychotics and that patients are given support when being transferred between settings.

He says that around £24m worth of medicines wasted in England in 2017 were due to the disposal of unused medicines in care homes.

To make the best use of pharmacist expertise, they must be fully embedded into STP implementation plans and working groups, he says.


Nairobi, Kenya: Patients of the Mama Lucy Kibaki Hospital have complained that they are being fooled into buying medicines from nearby pharmacies instead of getting them from the hospital, reports The Standard.

The hospital’s management has appealed to the Nairobi County Government, asking it to revoke the licences of all nearby pharmacies as a result.

Its superintendent, Musa Mohammed, claims that clinics and pharmacies are “mushrooming” near the hospital.

These shops are directing hospital clients to their own premises, he says, and some of the hospital staff are also sending patients there to buy drugs.

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