World news wrapup: 23 June 2016

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Our wrapup of pharmacy news from around the world

Loveland, Colorado: A pharmacy’s dosage error may have caused the death of an eight-year-old boy, Denver7 reports.

According to the station Jake Steinbrecher, who had for three years been taking Clonidine to help manage his hyperactivity, immediately had a reaction when he took his usual dose last Halloween.

Steinbrecher was taken to hospital where doctors said the medication had caused brain swelling.

When tested, the results showed that the pharmacist had mixed 1000 times the prescribed dosage, Denver7 reports: instead of taking .03mg of the drug, Steinbrecher ingested 30mg.

Steinbrecher was released from hospital and did well until hospitalised again this month. He died on June 8.

The family and their legal representative say the Good Day Pharmacy in Loveland has admitted to an error in the dosage, and Steinbrecher’s mother says she believes the pharmacy’s mistake led to her son’s death.

“People need to be aware of what is being given to their children,” says Caroline Steinbrecher, “they trust doctors and they trust pharmacists to do the right thing for them and to keep their children safe, but these are all just people and people make mistakes and errors and that’s where more protection needs to be in place.”


UK: The British pharmacy regulator, the General Pharmaceutical Council, has decided not to focus an investigation into any one particular company, it has announced in a statement addressing issues around professionalism under pressure.

Recently the Boots chain came under fire in The Guardian for allegedly pressuring its pharmacists to perform Medicines Use Reviews. The Guardian cited data from a Pharmacists’ Defence Association survey which suggested pharmacists were under workplace pressure to hit targets.

“We recognise that pharmacy professionals working in a wide variety of roles and settings will experience significant challenges in trying to provide high quality care to patients and the public while dealing with limited resources or other workplace pressures,” says GPhC chief executive Duncan Rudkin.

“It is important that everyone involved works to ensure that a balance is struck which protects and promotes the health and wellbeing of patients and the public, empowers pharmacy professionals to work with service users to make good decisions about care and enables companies to pursue legitimate business interests in an ethical way.

“We want to create an opportunity for all of us – regulators, the NHS, companies, professionals and representative bodies to consider these complex and challenging issues in depth, to inform the work we have to do individually and collectively.”

The GPhC plans to hold an event in October to address the role individuals and organisations can play in addressing the issues raised. It also plans to meet with stakeholders.

But it won’t investigate Boots.

“The Pharmacists’ Defence Association survey results themselves and the reactions to them have indicated that workplace pressures are not an issue for just one company, but a wider issue for the sector to which everyone within pharmacy needs to consider and respond,” says the GPhC.


Mexico: Pharmacy Times is reporting that pharmacies in Mexico are seeing an influx of Texan women seeking abortion pills.

Mifepristone (Mifeprex) and misoprostol have FDA approval for the termination of pregnancy.

“Although Mifeprex was first approved in 2000, a few months ago, the FDA approved a supplemental application for the use of the drug to end a pregnancy through 70 days of gestation,” wrote Meghan Ross in Pharmacy Times. “Previously, Mifeprex was not approved to be taken more than 49 days following the woman’s last period.

“The updated label also indicates that women can take the medication at a lower dose and with fewer visits to their health care provider. The current approved dosing regimen for Mifeprex is 200 mg taken orally on day 1. Then, 24 to 48 hours later, 800 mcg of misoprostol is taken buccally, and 7 to 14 days later, the patient should follow up with a health care provider.

“Previously, a woman would have had to take both doses of drugs at the clinic, plus the follow-up visit. In most states, women were already able to take the drugs at home and through a longer gestation period, but 3 states—Ohio, Texas, and North Dakota—required women to follow the drugs’ exact labelling.”

The Times says Texas clinics are now seeing a rise in medical abortions following the label update, while Texan women are also travelling to Mexico in greater numbers to buy cheap misoprostol at around US$50 (compared to around US$500 for an abortion).

“We sold it like hot bread,” a former pharmacy clerk named Roberto Gonzales said.


New Zealand: The Pharmacy Guild of New Zealand has welcomed a new president and vice president.

Graeme Blanchard, who has been vice president of the Guild for nine months and a board member since 2011, has been elected president, while Cameron Monteith, who joined the board in June last year and has experience in the Australian and UK pharmacy sectors, has been elected vice president.

Blanchard replaces Ken Orr, who had been president since 2014.

“Ken has provided dedicated and uncompromised leadership to the Guild throughout his presidency,” the Guild says.

“His ability to look at the bigger picture and plan for the future has been invaluable. His expertise and leadership throughout this time has been greatly appreciated by the Board, Guild staff, and members.”

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