World news wrapup: 31 January 2019


Alaskans directed to fill legitimate opioid scripts; Essex pharmacist struck off after “gross abrogation” of duty; Rotoruans can’t afford to fill scripts

Alaska, US: People with chronic pain in Alaska are being turned away by pharmacies, prompting the state’s Pharmacy Board to write to stores and direct them to fill legitimate prescriptions.

According to Must Read Alaska, some patients have lost their lives to suicide as a result of having had their pain medication “cut off or drastically reduced”.

Following attempts by legislators to crack down on “pill mills,” where doctors misuse their prescribing powers to prescribe a lot of opioids, pharmacies began refusing to fill more scripts, the site says.

Patients then got in touch with the Pharmacy Board to ask it to intervene.

The Board wrote to pharmacies to remind them that “extreme caution should be used when deciding not to fill a prescription” and that while the opioid crisis exists, pharmacists need to have sound professional reasons for not dispensing.

However the site also highlights that pharmacies are somewhat “caught in the middle,” as wholesalers can also cut off a pharmacy’s supply of opioids if it spots a rise in orders.

Other pharmacies are in a difficult situation when new patients, having been turned away from their regular pharmacy, presents to them.

 

Essex, UK: Oluyomi Olugbenga Adenaike, the former owner and superintendent pharmacist of Asset Chemist in Tilbury, has been struck off the register after he left a pharmacy technician in charge as the responsible pharmacist.

Chemist+Druggist reports that Mr Adenaike recorded the technician as the responsible pharmacist on three occasions, and the pharmacy’s director (not a registered pharmacist) as the responsible pharmacist on two occasions.

A General Pharmaceutical Council fitness to practise committee hearing noted that he failed to secure Oxycontin in the controlled drugs cabinet.

An inspector spotted that the responsible pharmacist notice was not visible during a February 2016 inspection. It turned out to be in a far corner behind the counter, partly hidden by bags of medicine.

She also saw two boxes of 5mg Oxycontin out in the dispensary, and the controlled drugs cabinets keys left in its lock.

To explain this, the pharmacist said he had been distracted by a telephone call. However, he also admitted that he would usually leave the keys with the director.

The GPhC described this as “wholly unacceptable and a gross abrogation of the responsible pharmacist’s duties”.

Drugs including amoxicillin, alendronic acid and allopurinol were also given to patients in excessive quantities.

Mr Adenaike also ran an online pharmacy, at which he failed to ensure the provision of safe services to patients, the GPhC noted.

 

Rotorua, New Zealand: Some patients are having to choose between scripts – or choosing not to fill them – due to their cost, reports the New Zealand Herald.

Reporter Cira Olivier writes that pharmacists in the area are concerned for their patient’s wellbeing.

She spoke to Rotorua Life Pharmacy pharmacist Francis Dragicevich, who said that staff frequently see patients inquire about the cost of having a script dispensed, then say they will return later.

“It’s just a diplomatic way of saying it’s too expensive. In short, you could die and your overall life expectancy could deteriorate.”

Other patients end up having to “pick and choose” between multiple medications, which is problematic when medicines need to be taken together.

Pharmacists and patients can both be distressed by such incidents, said Rotorua Area Primary Health Services (RAPHS) chief executive Kirsten Stone.

“This is clearly a concern, and one we seek to address. Funders and policy makers have done a really good job of bringing this cost down, but, for some, even $5 (AUD$4.75) remains a massive barrier especially when there are multiple medications prescribed.”

 

Saskatchewan, Canada: A pharmacist from Moose Jaw has been ordered to pay a CAD$5000 fine (AUD$5241) after he accepted more than CAD$700,000 (AUD$ 733875) in gift cards from a pharmaceutical company.

Niklas Voelk is also to pay investigation and hearing costs of CAD$14,000 (AUD$14,677), reports Global News Canada.

Mr Voelk is also required to disclose this to any employers or licencees for three years, following a disciplinary hearing.

In September 2015, he admitted to the manager of the Moose Jaw Co-Op that he had been accepting the cards from the Pharmascience company, and his employment was terminated a month later.

He now works in another pharmacy in Moose Jaw.

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