World news wrapup: 26 May 2016

A look at this week’s pharmacy news from around the world

UK: A British pharmacist has been struck off for falsifying 19 medicines use reviews (MURs) during two months, Chemist + Druggist reports.

Aleksandra Murray told the General Pharmaceutical Council’s fitness to practise committee that she had lied about completing 17 MURs in August 2014, and two more in September, plus forging the signature on two forms.

Murray said there was some pressure from Lloydspharmacy management to do “more and more” MURs, but acknowledged that what she had done was wrong.

Lloydspharmacy responded to the claim by saying it encourages its pharmacists to discuss medicines use with all patients, but that MURs should only be carried out “to meet a clear patient need, in line with the inclusion criteria and with integrity,” it told C+D.


Mississippi, US: A new law in Mississippi will allow pharmacies in the state to refuse to provide drugs or services if they are not paid more than acquisition cost. The new regulation will take place from July, reports Drug Topics.

It is not uncommon in the US for the reimbursement a patient’s insurance pays for filling a script to add up to less than it cost the pharmacy to acquire the drug. Usually, the pharmacy has to take the loss, Drug Topics reports, or the insurer dictates reimbursements as part of that pharmacy being in its network.

“Other times, the pharmacy does not even know what it will be reimbursed until after the claim is processed.”

Under the new provisions, a pharmacy will be able to decline to dispense a drug and will be expected to provide the customer with information about where the script can be filled.

The US’ largest pharmacy benefit manager, Express Scripts, says the law reduces patient care and access.

“It is unfair for pharmacies to put profits ahead of people and turn away patients who need medication,” Brian Henry, an Express Scripts’ spokesperson, told Drug Topics.


Massachusetts, US: A pharmacy technician has pleaded not guilty to a count of larceny of a drug after she was accused of stuffing 40 bottles of a prescription codeine-containing cough syrup into her lunch bag over several months, and sending them to a drug-addicted cousin in Puerto Rico.

Kassandra Hernandez was investigated by police after the pharmacist and owner of the Medical Center Pharmacy reported the 40 bottles of Promethazine with codeine missing.

The Lowell Sun reports that the product can be mixed with soft drink or Jolly Rancher candies to create a euphoria-inducing mixture known as “Purple Drank”.


UK: The UK’s Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee has published its response to the Government’s December 2015 letter entitled “Community pharmacy in 2016/7 and beyond”.

“Within the response, PSNC makes clear that the proposals contained in the letter represent a major threat to the future availability of accessible healthcare, support and advice from community pharmacies,” the organisation says.

“We are concerned that this threat has not been made clear to the public nor to their representatives, and that the policies underpinning the letter have not been based on analysis of the likely consequences or costs to the public as patients, members of our communities, or taxpayers.”

  • It says that: The interests of patients and patient care must underpin proposals;
  • Policies must be well-informed, using NHS resources effectively;
  • The ability of community pharmacy to offer much more to our communities has been largely neglected by policy makers. To meet the future health of our communities this must be properly addressed with urgency;
  • Remote supply and the benefits of automation are untested;
  • The interests of patient care must influence decisions about future pharmacy numbers and locations;
  • The NHS can make savings and improve patient care by developing patient services from pharmacies; and
  • The government must be honest, open and fair in implementing a major change of policy on community pharmacy.


Wellington, New Zealand: The Pharmacy Guild of New Zealand has announced that Andrew Gaudin has accepted the role of Chief Executive. Gaudin will start on 4 July 2016.

Pharmacy Guild President, Ken Orr says, “I am pleased to confirm that after a comprehensive recruitment process, Andrew Gaudin will be starting as the Guild’s new Chief Executive in July.

“Andrew has significant health sector experience, having spent more than 20 years in a variety of leadership and advisory roles at the Crown Company Monitoring and Advisory Unit, Ministry of Health, District Health Boards and healthAlliance. This includes five years as a Strategic Advisor in the Director General of Health’s office.

“Andrew brings considerable knowledge and experience of the current Community Pharmacy Services Agreement, as he was closely involved in establishing this agreement in 2012. He was also involved in the policy decision to expand the provision of the Community Pharmacy Anticoagulation Management Service pilot across the community pharmacy sector.

“Andrew has a wealth of knowledge and is professionally qualified as a Chartered Accountant. He has a Bachelor of Science (Hons) degree in Operations Research and a Bachelor of Business Studies in Accountancy.

“The Guild is extremely pleased to have Andrew on board and look forward to working with him to continue to support our members.”


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