World news wrapup: 30 May 2019

How CWH and local discounters are affecting Kiwi pharmacies; Oklahoma sues over opioid epidemic; is Boots to close 200 stores?

New Zealand: TVNZ has reported on the rise of Chemist Warehouse and a local discount chain in New Zealand – and its impact on competitors, who are reportedly worried about their future.

Laura James reports that Jeff Harrison, head of Auckland University’s Pharmacy degree, says Chemist Warehouse and the new Bargain Chemist, which opened its first outlet in 2018, are placing a focus “back on product and price rather than healthcare”.

“Obviously the pharmacists that work there have the same qualifications… but students have commented about the different feel in a Chemist Warehouse compared to community pharmacists,” he said.

Ms James also spoke to the New Zealand Pharmacy Guild’s chief executive Andrew Gaudin, who said that other pharmacies “are having to cut services to compete or else they’re going to be forced to close”.

Chemist Warehouse is set to open its sixth store in Auckland over the next week.

Azman Haroon, the chain’s New Zealand director, says he hopes to have 15 Chemist Warehouses in New Zealand by the end of 2019.

Chemist Warehouse and Bargain Chemist are both offering free standard scripts, which they say helps remove barriers to accessing health care.


UK: Boots the Chemist is considering closing more than 200 of its stores over the next few years, reports Sky News – but Chemist + Druggist reports that the chain does not have a “major programme” of closures planned.

According to Sky, the Walgreens Boots Alliance – the US owner of the chain in the UK – is reviewing the Boots assets, “focusing on low-performing stores and opportunities for consolidation”.

“An insider said that some of the affected sites would close at the expiry of their leases, while others would be part of a consolidation in towns which currently have two separate Boots stores,” the channel reported.

When asked about such a program, Boots told C+D that “As you’d expect, we always review underperforming stores and seek out opportunities for consolidation.

“Whenever this happens our focus is on transferring colleagues to other stores and that local communities have access to a pharmacy service.

“As is natural with a business of our size, we have stores opening, closing and relocating on a regular basis, but we have had around 2,500 stores open for several years now,” Boots said.

“We are being realistic about the future and that we will need to be agile to adapt to the changing landscape.”


Oklahoma, US: Johnson & Johnson is being sued by the State of Oklahoma over its marketing campaigns for opioid analgesics, reports the ABC.

Oklahoma is alleging that the pharma company’s campaigns were deceptive, and helped contribute to the opioid crisis underway in the United States.

It says the campaigns included inflated claims about the efficacy of its opioid medicines, and minimised information about risks such as dependence.

According to the ABC Johnson & Johnson says that doctors were responsible for prescribing the medicines, and the company was “part of a lawful and heavily regulated industry that was subject to strict federal oversight”.

On May 26, Oklahoma announced a US$85 million (AUD$122,672,000) settlement agreement with Teva Pharmaceuticals for its role in the state’s opioid crisis.

The funds will then be used to abate the opioid crisis in Oklahoma.

“Today’s announcement is a testament to the state’s legal team’s countless hours and resources preparing for this trial and their dedication and resolve to hold the defendants in this case accountable for the ongoing opioid overdose and addiction epidemic that continues to claim thousands of lives each year,” state Attorney General Mike Hunter said.

“Nearly all Oklahomans have been negatively impacted by this deadly crisis and we look forward to Tuesday, where we will prove our case against Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiaries.”


Auckland, New Zealand: An Auckland pharmacy has offered itself as a safe space for children, following the arrest of a man for the alleged indecent assault of a young girl.

The girl was walking to school on Monday morning when she was approached by the man and assaulted, reports Stuff.

The school posted that police are investigating the incident and that parents should ensure children are not walking alone.

It encouraged them to report any suspicious behaviour to police.

According to Stuff, there have been a number of similar incidents in the area in the past.

Green Bay Pharmacy was one of several stores to offer assistance.

“Due to recent concerns over children’s safety in the area please let your children know that Green Bay Pharmacy is a safe space,” it posted.

“If they are worried or feel unsafe in any way our staff will help. We will call parents/guardians and give them a safe haven while they wait to be collected.”

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