World news wrapup: 29 August 2019

Real and fake Panadol in Malaysia. Image Zeff Tan via Facebook.
Real and fake Panadol in Malaysia. Image Zeff Tan via Facebook.

Fake Panadol alert for Malaysia; NZ calls for pharmacist-administered MMR amid measles outbreak; Canadian pharmacist suspended and fined

Penang, Malaysia: A pharmacist from Penang has shared images of genuine and fake Panadol tablets which have been circulating in Malaysia, according to

Zeff Tan had been aware for some time that counterfeit paracetamol was being sold around the country, but was only recently able to obtain some of the fake medicine himself.

Mr Tan, who is also a part-time blogger, shared a number of tips on identifying the fake Panadol.

These included cross-checking the “MAL” number printed on the back of the paracetamol blister pack with the Ministry of Health’s site; and checking the quality of the pack and being alert for spelling mistakes.

Mr Tan noted that the counterfeit tablets are packaged in rougher material than the genuine item, and that in the packaging he inspected, the manufacturer was listed as “ClaxoSmithKline” rather than “Glaxosmithkline”.

He also warned followers to look for rougher edges on the fake Panadol tablets.

Mr Tan encouraged consumers to buy their medicines only from reputable pharmacies and to buy products like paracetamol in their entire boxes, rather than in individual strips of tablets.

The post has reportedly gone viral, having been shared 4,900 times at the time of writing.


New Zealand: The Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand has called for pharmacists to be able to provide the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, in the wake of an outbreak of measles in the country.

The PSNZ backed a statement by Dr Nikki Turner, Director of the Immunisation Advisory Centre, in which she said the outbreak “should not be happening”.

Dr Turner was right when she said that “we’ve known for a long time we’ve had gaps in immunisation, and nothing has been done in a co-ordinated way. We need a national approach,” said PSNZ chief executive Richard Townley.

“There are 864 pharmacists accredited to provide vaccinations and a pharmacy in every community,” Mr Townley said.

“Your local pharmacy is already able to provide vaccinations for influenza, shingles (herpes zoster), Tdap (Tetanus, diptheria and whooping cough), and meningitis (meningococcal), but not for MMR (measles, mumps, rubella).”

“It is now urgent that the Ministry of Health amend the policies and regulations governing who can provide MMR vaccinations to include accredited pharmacist vaccinators, and for PHARMAC to fund the delivery of this service.”

He said that there is “a robust, proven set of procedures which pharmacist vaccinators follow when providing vaccinations to the public and they are trained the same as other health professionals to carry out vaccination services”.

“We are offering the Ministry a solution to directly address current inequities in healthcare, the worst of which are experienced by Māori,” said Mr Townley.

“We know that childhood immunisation rates are falling and that regional outbreaks are occurring. Accredited pharmacist vaccinators can be part of the solution.”


UK: People with epilepsy are reportedly stockpiling their medicines, according to Chemist + Druggist.

Epilepsy Society medical director Ley Sander told the pharmacy publication that “a lot of people with epilepsy are stocking up,” and that some are asking for an “extra month of drugs” or telling their prescriber that they have either lost their existing supply, or forgotten their script.

Prof Sander told C+D that the Society has received more calls than usual to its telephone help line in the last few months, with people calling because they have not been able to get their medication for three days.

“Until six months ago, it would be rare to have people running out of medication,” he said. “Recently this has become a big issue.”

While it is not the only factor, the looming Brexit has contributed to patient fears, Prof Sander said, because some are worried given their medicines are manufactured in EU countries.

Social and other media over Brexit and potential medicines shortages is amplifying their fears.

“That creates more anxiety and feeds into the mill.”


Edmonton, Canada: A pharmacist has had his licence – both as a pharmacist and as a pharmacy operator – suspended after he was found guilty of submitting more than CAD$100,000 (AUD$ 111,480) worth of claims which could not be corroborated with inventory purchase records.

The Alberta College of Pharmacy investigated the conduct of Si Huu Nguyen, and at a hearing found him guilty of unprofessional conduct with respect to his responsibilities as a pharmacist, and also as the licensee of his pharmacy.

The Hearing Tribunal also considered allegations that the pharmacist had created false dispensing records and stored pharmacy records outside of the licensed premises without authorisation.

Despite the pharmacist’s lack of a previous disciplinary record, the Tribunal imposed significant penalties.

These included:

  • a reprimand;
  • a suspension of the pharmacist’s practice permit for a period of 12 months;
  • fines totalling CAD$30,000 (AUD$33,444);
  • the pharmacist not to be an owner, proprietor or licensee of a pharmacy for a period of five years;
  • payment of all costs of the investigation and hearing (approximately CAD$56,000 or AUD$62,429);
  • the pharmacist to provide a copy of the written decision to the licensee of any pharmacy where he works as a pharmacist for five years; and
  • a requirement for the pharmacist to successfully complete the ACP’s Ethics and Jurisprudence exam prior to reinstating as a pharmacist.

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