World news wrapup: 27 August 2020

UAE cracks down on prescription discounting; US docs oppose pharmacist vaccination of children; pharmacist loses battle with COVID-19

Dubai, UAE: The Gulf News reports that the United Arab Emirates’ Ministry of Health has cracked down on pharmacies offering discounts on prescriptions.

A top official at a hospital network which runs multiple pharmacy outlets told the News that the ban on discounts, usually of five to 15%, will also apply to over-the-counter medicines if the Ministry has set prices for them.

“There was always a rule to not offer discounts—however it was not one that was highly monitored. Hence, there was the practice of offering discounts,” the official said.

“We had the practice of offering 5% discount on these products. The MoH want us to follow the retail price recommended by them and without discount.”

The practice will now attract “stiff” fines.

According to industry sources, the Ministry was concerned that pharmacies might be using pricing to increase sales, and that medical insurers and third-party administrators were pressuring the sector to reduce prices.


US: The American Medical Association has announced that it opposes the Department of Health and Human Services’ new declaration, which allows pharmacists and pharmacy interns to administer vaccines to children between the ages of three and 18.

“While we acknowledge that childhood vaccinations have significantly declined during the pandemic, preempting state licensing laws to expand pharmacists’ scope of practice is not the solution to vaccine hesitancy and will create additional problems,” said Dr Susan R Bailey, president of the AMA.

“It will likely cause children to forgo holistic well-child exams and comprehensive preventive care, early diagnosis, optimal therapy, and ensured timely vaccinations that are necessary to safeguard children’s health, especially during a pandemic.

“Additionally, the declaration is misleading in its assertion that a multitude of states ‘already allow pharmacists to administer vaccines to children of any age.’

“Many of these states have important protocols in place, such as requiring a prescription or order from a physician.

“Pediatricians’ and family physicians’ practices are open and ready to provide the comprehensive preventive care parents and patients expect. We urge HHS to reconsider the negative health repercussions of funneling children away from their primary care physicians and rescind this declaration.”


Anantnag, India: A pharmacist is among a number of people who have lost their lives to COVID-19 in the last week in the Indian union territory of Jammu and Kashmir.

According to, Bashir Ahmad Magray was a senior pharmacist in the Health department. He died of the novel coronavirus on Sunday morning.

“Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and several religious and social organizations have condoled the demise of Magray and said he dedicated his entire life to the service of humanity,” JKmedia reports.


Ireland: The Irish Pharmacy Union has reminded the public about the major health risks from buying medicines online – including buying COVID-19 testing kits.

Community pharmacist and IPU Executive Committee member Caitriona O’Riordan said, “It is vitally important that all testing for COVID-19 is centralised under the direction of the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) and conducted in the National Virus Reference Laboratory to ensure first and foremost that the test result is trustworthy, and also that we have reliable national data on case levels, and contact tracing can be carried out.”

The IPU says the public must heed NPHET advice that members of the public should not purchase COVID-19 tests online or from any other retailer, as these tests may provide incorrect results.

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