World news wrapup: 29 March 2018

homoeopathy pills and blue bottle

Canadian pharmacist trashes his shop on eviction; new NZ code of ethics ignored; jail for failing to report TB

Belle River, Ontario: A pharmacist who was being evicted from his pharmacy has pleaded guilty to mischief after he spent the last day in his store trashing the premises, the Windsor Star reports.

“Luigi DiPierdomenico spent the last day in his Belle River pharmacy spray-painting the walls, cutting the wiring, hiding raw fish in the walls and ceilings and emptying a pail of white mice into the space,” writes reporter Sarah Sacheli.

Superior Court Justice Kirk Munroe noted that Mr DiPierdomenico aimed to cause the maximum harm and distress to his landlords, Gerald and Denise Williams.

The landlords were selling the building, and found a buyer: another pharmacist, who hoped to open his own store in the premises Mr DiPierdomenico was renting. Following civil court proceedings, Mr DiPierdomenico was ordered to vacate the premises by midnight on November 30, 2015.

Ms Williams went to the shop that day she found the windows papered over from the inside and Mr DiPierdomenico giving orders to removalists. But when she returned just after midnight with her husband and the buyer, they found interior fittings such as cabinets, counters and shelves ripped out, neon paint on the walls, and electrical wiring and telephone lines cut.

Faeces were left in the upper tank of the shop’s toilet area and the shop contained a number of white mice.

Over the next few days they found rotting food in the drop ceiling and walls, which had been filled with raw meat, fish, eggs and dairy products and then resealed.

The Williams had to pay more than CAD$50,000 (AUD$50,451) to repair the damage themselves – despite Mr Williams’ recent surgery for cancer – alongside family.

Mr DiPierdomenico was sentenced to a conditional discharge with probation. If he does not offend within 12 months he will escape a criminal record.

The Williams have been paid back CAD$17,500 in restitution and plan to sue Mr DiPierdomenico for more.


New Zealand: Pharmacists are ignoring the new code of ethics which requires them to tell customers when an item has no evidence to support its efficacy, Newsroom reports.

The country’s new code of ethics came into effect on March 12, 2018, replacing an older code which stated pharmacies should not sell items which have “no credible evidence of efficacy,” the site reports.

“This was widely ignored by pharmacies.”

The new code states that pharmacies can sell items which do not have an evidence base to support their efficacy, but staff have to tell customers that there is no scientific evidence to support their use.

Newsroom visited four Auckland pharmacies and asked whether a homeopathic remedy would work.

“In three cases a staff member said the product would work. The fourth pharmacy said there was no evidence ‘yet’ the product would work,” writes reporter Farah Hancock.

The Pharmacy Council, which established the code of ethics, has recently written to pharmacists to make them aware of the new rules around complementary medicines, including homeopathy.

Chair of the Society for Science Based Healthcare Mark Hanna told Newsroom that he was disappointed but not surprised that pharmacies were ignoring the new code of ethics.

“The real test now of course is when the Pharmacy Council finds out about this what happens,” he said.

“You have to be able to enforce this. They should at the very least help the pharmacy become compliant, if the pharmacy doesn’t want to be helped, then the Pharmacy Council needs to do something about it.”


Kentucky, US: Changes to how payment to pharmacies is determined are threatening the business of Kentucky’s 520 independent pharmacies, the Courier Journal reports.

A Pharmacy Benefit Manager has cut Medicaid prescription medicine reimbursements to pharmacies without explanation or warning, one pharmacist told the Courier Journal.

“It’s gotten to a point where, unfortunately, a lot of independents are closing or will close this year if something’s not done,” said Rob Warford, director of three independent pharmacies in Louisville.

Another pharmacist, Jennifer Grove, owns the only drugstore in Trimble County and says her pharmacy provides a vital service for locals.

But “my business literally has been trashed by the low reimbursement rates of the PBMs in the past year,” she wrote in a letter to Kentucky legislators.

The Courier-Journal reports that legislators are taking notice of similar issues in other states including West Virginia, Arkansas and Ohio, which are examining ways to “rein in the power” of PBMs.

Republican Senator Max Wise told a legislative committee in February that PBMs currently “set all the rules with little or no government oversight whatsoever,” a situation he described as “very appalling”.


India: Pharmacists who fail to notify the Indian government of tuberculosis cases could face jail terms, the IOL reports.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently committed to eradicate the disease from India by 2025.

Now, his government has announced that all clinical establishments, doctors, chemists and druggists must notify authorities of cases or face up to two years’ jail.

Failure to report would be treated as a negligent – or “malignant” – act likely to spread disease dangerous to life under the Indian penal code.

A secure web portal will be made available by the Central Tuberculosis Division to all practitioners, clinical establishments, pharmacies, chemists, druggists and patients for online submission of information.

“To ensure proper TB diagnosis and its management in patients and their contacts and to reduce TB transmission and further to address the problems of emergence and spread of Drug Resistant-Tuberculosis, it is essential to collect complete information of all TB patients,” the Health Ministry said.

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