World news wrapup: 26 April 2018

More jobs for those willing to skip lunch; US pharmacist fights to clear his name; Prince’s family sues a hospital and the Walgreens pharmacy chain

Birmingham, UK: A local agency has claimed that some of its clients will only offer shifts to pharmacists who are prepared to miss lunch, the UK’s Pharmacists Defence Association says.

On the agency’s online diary system, which allows locums to specify their availability, it clearly states that “lunch preferences reduce the number of vacancies offered”.  This implies that those who specify that they want to have a break, may not get offered employment, PDA says.

The organisation says this is one more example of the need for its Safer Pharmacies Charter.

“A ‘race to the bottom’ is where workers or organisations agree to accept lower and lower standards in order to secure work,” says PDA’s director, Paul Day.

“If locums must agree to give up having adequate rest in order to secure a shift, then what’s next?  What other safety standards will they need to agree to miss, in order to earn a living?

“This is unacceptable. Having adequate rest is not only a feature of running a safe pharmacy, it is also an employment right in the UK. Denial of a break is a breach of the Working Time Regulations. 

“This also sounds like a policy that may disproportionately disadvantage those who are pregnant or who may need a break due to a disability, both of which are protected characteristics in law.”


Illinois, US: The heirs of pop star Prince are suing an Illinois hospital as well as the Walgreens pharmacy chain, filing a wrongful-death suit in Illinois against the Trinity Medical Center in Rock Island.

The Star Tribune reports that the lawsuit queries the actions of a doctor and a pharmacist at the Center.

Prince had become unwell on a flight home from a concert and his plane made an emergency landing in Moline, Illinois, where paramedics administered naloxone for an opioid overdose.

He was taken to the medical centre and asked to disclose what he had been taking, after he refused the “standard set” of tests, requested by a doctor, for an overdose. He showed the health professionals an aspirin bottle containing white, oval pills, and a pharmacist confirmed that these appeared to be prescription Vicodin before handing them back to the musician.

“The pills actually were counterfeits that contained hazardous levels of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid 50 times more powerful than heroin,” write staff reporters Jeremy Olson and Dan Browning, but this was not confirmed until after Prince had died of a fentanyl overdose several days later.

The lawsuit also names the Walgreens chain, as it dispensed opioid medicines in the name of a friend of Prince, which were actually meant for the star.

No criminal charges have been laid against any person regarding Prince’s death.


Tampa, Florida: A former hospital pharmacist is working to rebuild his life and career, after he was arrested last year for sexual battery due to allegations he assaulted a women he met on the dating app Tinder.

Robert Michael Woods was accused of sexually assaulting the woman, who also alleged that she later found two injection sites on the side of her neck, after the two shared drinks at Mr Woods’ apartment. The arrest affidavit showed numerous messages shared between the two which Mr Woods maintains were taken out of context and which led to his arrest.

In October his attorney filed a Motion for Adversary Preliminary Hearing, due to the fact that Mr Woods had not been charged by Information or Indictment within 21 days of his arrest.

In November the Court heard this motion, granted a Defense Motion for an Adversary Preliminary Hearing and ordered Mr Woods to be released.  

Further police investigation including search warrants on Mr Woods’ residence, as well as his mobile phone, revealed “no evidentiary backing” to the allegations. A letter of release says that the State Attorney’s Office had elected not to file criminal charges.

Mr Woods says that his career has suffered following the arrest, but he hopes to again find work as a pharmacist.

“I have suffered damage to my reputation both personally and professionally, with some friends and colleagues refusing to associate with me in any way,” he says.

“I was forced to abandon my apartment and I lost my job St. Joseph’s Hospital because of these false and damaging accusations. My mugshot is all over the internet with a simple search.

“I have been unable to find employment and have incurred tremendous financial loss while watching my family suffer in consequence to the stigma of being falsely accused of a terrible crime.

“I will continue to put my faith in God as I move forward to restore my reputation, hopefully resume my previous employment, and continue to fulfill the oath I took as a pharmacist.”


Henniker, New Hampshire: A pharmacist has been praised for her quick thinking when she stopped a senior citizen from being fleeced of US$5000 (AUD$6569) last week.

An elderly woman came into the Henniker Pharmacy and told its owner, pharmacist Sarah Chapin, that she wanted to send the money overnight to New Jersey.

She said that she was not supposed to tell anybody, but she needed to send the money to bail her grandson out of jail, as he had been involved in a car accident.

Ms Chapin asked the customer whether she knew the person she was sending the money to, and the customer said she did not.

“She just kept saying, ‘You can’t say anything. I’m not supposed to tell anybody’,” Ms Chapin told WMUR9.

“And I said, ‘You’re not supposed to tell anybody because they don’t want you to stop the transaction from going through. They want you to send it, be done with it, and be gone’.”

Ms Chapin, who was familiar with money wiring as she had done it regularly in the past, urged the woman to go to local police, who then called the scam artist.

The scammer said that he was a public defender in New Jersey, but would not give identifying information.

The woman was later able to contact her grandson, who was unhurt.

“They’re out there,” said Ms Chapin. “And there’s a lot of people that prey on other people and it’s not good.”

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