World news wrapup: 25 April 2019

Fined and deregistered Canadian pharmacist uncontactable; new name for Indian chemists and druggists; Wyoming pharmacist delivers for his patients

Edmonton, Canada: A pharmacist has been banned from owning a pharmacy for 10 years after she was found guilty of five counts of professional misconduct.

Shereen Elbayomy was deregistered for “egregious breaches of her duties,” according to the Edmonton Journal, which involved improperly receiving CAD$388,484 (AUD$410,317) in insurance claims between 2015 and 2017.

Following complaints by Alberta Blue Cross, investigators found that the pharmacy claimed to have sold many more medicines than it had actually ordered, dispensed more medicines than some scripts called for, filled scripts it did not have permission to fill, filled them before the earliest date a repeat should have been filled, and dispensed different drugs to those on the scripts.

Ms Elbayomy has proved difficult for the Alberta College of Pharmacy to locate: her pharmacy has closed and attempts to contact her via email and registered mail have failed.

As well as deregistering the pharmacist, a tribunal fined her CAD$80,000 (AUD$84,483).


India: The Union Health Ministry, the ministry which oversees health in India, is set to make a legislative change which will affect every medicine outlet in the country.

A senior official from the Ministry told the Star of Mysore that the term “Chemist and Druggist,” which currently pertains to these shops, is outdated and set to be replaced with the term “Pharmacy”.

The official said the move will give pharmacy “better professional recognition”. The term “Druggist” in particular has become associated with illegal drugs and substance abuse, and is no longer appropriate for use when referring to a professional pharmacist, they said.

“Once the amendment is done, all the medical shops in the country will be called as Pharmacy.”


Bridger Valley, Wyoming: For the last two months, pharmacist Bryce Habel has been making an 80-mile (129km) round trip almost every weekday, delivering vital medicines to residents of a town which has lost its pharmacy.

Bridger Valley’s only pharmacy had been a Shopko – a chain which declared bankruptcy in January, closed 100 stores, then another 150, and then the remainder, after it failed to find a buyer for the remaining pharmacies.

The town, of about 6,000 people, is now one of more than 600 communities in rural parts of the US which has no pharmacy.

Bryce Habel had been the pharmacist at the Bridger Valley Shopko, and lost his job when the store closed.

He was offered another job – which would have meant he had to move “hundreds of miles” away, reports Wyoming Public Media – but declined as he wanted to remain in the town where he lives.

“Out here, people just care about you. They wave,” he said. “Me and my wife have just fallen in love with it. We want our kids to grow up in that environment.”

A medical centre in Kemmerer has now offered to open a new pharmacy in Bridger Valley, with Mr Habel to come on board as its manager when it opens in May.

But for now he will continue to run the delivery service he began when the Shopko closed in February.

“We couldn’t let them go without their insulin. We couldn’t let them go without medication that’s keeping them alive,” he said.  


US: Pharmacists are being targeted by phone scammers, according to an article in the Pharmacy Times.

The US Drug Enforcement Administration has released a statement saying that health professionals and members of the public should be cautious of phone calls from people posing as DEA agents.

American pharmacists have recently been discussing the issue on social media, reports the Times, saying that they have received such threatening calls.

The purported DEA officials have access to information about the pharmacist, which often catches victims off-guard.

The callers threaten legal action over “supposed violations of federal drug laws or involvement in drug-trafficking activities.”

“The callers typically identify themselves as DEA personnel and instruct their victims to pay the ‘fine’ via wire transfer to avoid arrest, prosecution, and imprisonment,” the DEA said.

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