World news wrapup: 28 July 2016

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AJP takes a look at pharmacy-related news around the world

Mykonos, Greece: An Athens pharmacist has been arrested for trafficking in cocaine and hashish in Mykonos clubs, the Greek Reporter says.

An Attica Drug Enforcement Agency operation saw police officers follow the pharmacist and his brother to Mykonos, where it is alleged they carried large quantities of the drugs and sold them to a former bar owner for distribution.

Police were tipped off about the pharmacy in Athens’ Neos kosmos neighbourhood, and started monitoring the pharmacy’s phone calls and then following the 50-year-old pharmacist and his brother.

Attica Police say that in Mykonos they found and seized 141 packages of cocaine, about 6kg of hashish, 260g of a powder used to adulterate drugs, two handguns and 4,720 euros.


UK: A General Pharmaceutical Council guideline document has been described as going “too far” by the Pharmacists’ Defence Association, Chemist + Druggist reports.

The report, Demonstrating Professionalism Online, is aimed at setting out what is expected of pharmacy professionals when using social media, the GPhC says.

“This emphasises that pharmacy professionals have the same responsibilities and obligations when interacting online as they do when interacting face-to-face,” says GPhC. “It outlines both the potential benefits of social media and risks that need to be managed.”

The guidance, set out as a short list of dos and don’ts, encourages pharmacists to behave professionally, maintain confidentiality and privacy at all times, maintain proper professional boundaries and not to post “inappropriate comments”.


Rhode Island, US: A new study from the CVS Health Research Institute found that medication reconciliation programs, in which pharmacists review patients’ medication regimens and provide adherence counselling during the patient’s transition from hospital to home, reduced risk of hospital readmission by 50% and helped avoid unnecessary health care costs.

The research, published in the July issue of Health Affairs, is the first to evaluate the impact of an insurer-supported medication reconciliation program on clinical outcomes and health care spending.

“After leaving the hospital people are especially vulnerable and are often dealing with complex and changing care regimens, which can result in high rates of medication non-adherence and increased risk for costly and unnecessary readmissions,” said Troyen A. Brennan, M.D., executive vice president and Chief Medical Officer, CVS Health.

“In fact, adverse drug events, often attributable to medication non-adherence, are associated with the majority of hospital readmissions. This research shows that programs that provide patients with additional support from a pharmacist can help improve health outcomes and save payers and patients money.”


Kentucky, US: A Lexington former pharmacy owner has been jailed for fraudulently stealing over US$1 million from a charity that provides copayment assistance for low-income people with chronic diseases, including cancer.

Adam Sloan, who pleaded guilty to the offenses, was sentenced to 75 months in federal prison for developing and executing the scheme to defraud the Chronic Disease Fund.

The scheme involved using real patient information he acquired through Bluegrass Pharmacy, the legitimate business he co-owned until June 30, 2015; he used names, social security numbers, medical benefit cards and documentation reflecting patient income to fraudulently enrol patients to receive benefits from the charity.

These were based on false diagnoses and prescriptions.

He then withdrew the benefits allocated to those patients into his own bank account, receiving a total of approximately US$1,129,264 for 260 fraudulent applications.

Sloan’s girlfriend, Jennifer Houska, worked at the pharmacy for a time and helped with some of the thefts. She was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison.


UK: The UK has a new Pharmacy Minister, David Mowat appointed by new British PM Theresa May following the sudden recent resignation by Alistair Burt.

The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiation Committee says it is writing to Mr Mowat urgently to ask him to consider the future of community pharmacy in Britain.

“We hope very much that the new team will take a fresh approach to community pharmacy, revisiting the nonsensical proposals set out last year and instead working with us to ensure that the NHS and patients can get the most benefit possible from community pharmacies,” says PSNC Chief Executive Sue Sharpe.

“As the minister gets to grips with his new brief we will be encouraging him to look carefully at the ill considered proposals that led to 2.2m people signing a petition supporting pharmacies, thousands of letters sent to MPs and a host of arguments put forward at both local and national level since publication of the December 17th letter.

“We will also ask him to examine carefully the thinking and analysis that underpinned those proposals and whether they have any sound basis. We have seen nothing.

“We will seek to meet with the minister very early, and we hope to be able to work constructively with him and officials.”

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