World news wrapup: 27 September 2018

British “pharmacist” detained on suspicion of working with Islamic State; Rite Aid reacts to distribution centre shooting; likely end to US pharmacy “gag clause”

Syria: A British man has been detained in Syria on suspicion of working with Islamic State says that he is a qualified pharmacist who just wanted to help people.

The BBC reports that Anwar Miah, who was detained in Deir al-Zour in the country’s east last month, may be being held by US special forces.

Footage of his capture has appeared on Twitter, in which Mr Miah claims that he has been working in a medic’s capacity in Islamic State territory for four years.

“I’m a doctor. I’m a qualified pharmacist from the UK. I studied medicine and pharmacy,” he says in the video.

“I came here to work with the general people and to help people. I’ve been working in the hospitals since I came,” he says.

When asked whether he was actually working for Islamic State, he replies that while the hospitals were “controlled by Daesh” he could not do anything about this and worked with the public.

The BBC notes that a pharmacist with the same name, also from Birmingham in the UK, had his registration cancelled in 2014 as a result of falsifying work records.


Aberdeen, Maryland: Four people died at a Rite Aid distribution centre in Perryman, an unincorporated area near Aberdeen in Harford County, Maryland, after a temporary employee shot three co-workers and then herself.

The Baltimore Sun reports that Snochia Moseley brought a 9mm handgun to the centre. The Rite Aid pharmacy chain employed 1000 full-time, 300 temporary and 30 part-time workers at the centre.

Rite Aid communication manager Pete Strella told the Sun that the pharmacy chain’s thoughts and prayers were with all involved in the incident. Rite Aid closed the centre immediately following the shooting.

Now, Major William Davis, chief of the Harford County Sheriff’s Office’s police operations bureau, has told officials that Ms Moseley had been diagnosed with acute schizophrenia.

However, when filling out forms required in order a handgun, she wrote that she had not been diagnosed with a mental illness.

“I think all of us in the room would probably agree that somebody who has been diagnosed with acute schizophrenia should not be allowed to possess or purchase a weapon,” Major Davis said.


US: A new law allowing pharmacists to talk to patients about the cheapest options when paying for prescription drugs is expected to be signed by US President Donald Trump.

Bloomberg reports that the bill has now been passed in the US House of Representative and the Senate.

Pharmacists have been subject to a “gag clause,” imposed by pharmacy benefit managers and insurers, which prevented them from letting their patients know they could get drugs cheaper if they paid cash, rather than an insurance copayment.

The bill was a response to the practice of “clawbacks,” in which patients pay a higher copayment than the actual cash price of the drug, making a profit for pharmacy benefit managers.

Some states have already legislated against preventing pharmacists from discussing the cheaper cash option with patients.

The new bill has the support of the President, according to his Twitter account, on which he wrote, “Americans deserve to know the lowest drug price at their pharmacy, but ‘gag clauses’ prevent your pharmacist from telling you! I support legislation that will remove gag clauses and urge the Senate to act.”

Ireland: The Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland has proposed new rules which would see changes to the amount of time a pharmacist can be temporarily absent from their store – and the Irish Pharmacy Union is concerned, reports the Irish Mirror.

The move could see pharmaceutical assistants sacked or facing shorter working hours, the Union warns.

According to Fine Gael Senator Maria Byrne, “The Temporary Absence of Pharmacist from Pharmacy Rules 2018 will set out the arrangements under which pharmaceutical assistants may act in the temporary absence of a registered pharmacist restricting their hours to 12 hours per week”.

Currently these pharmacy assistants can cover pharmacists’ days off, short absences and up to two weeks’ holidays, she says.

The IPU says that “These exceedingly restrictive draft rules effectively render the pharmaceutical assistant qualification next-to-worthless and put at grave risk the continuing employment and employability of the remaining cohort of pharmaceutical assistants, most of whom have decades of practical experience and have accumulated significant experiential learning.”

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