World news wrapup: 4 April 2019


Former pharmacy owner murders drug inspector; inquest hears of dispensing error; former pharmacist tipped to be head of suspected stolen drug operation

Kharar, India: Around 10 years after he lost his licence to operate a pharmacy, a 45-year-old man from Morinda, identified as Balwinder Singh, went to the local Food and Drug Administration office and shot a drugs control officer.

According to the Star of Mysore, Mr Balwinder had been “nursing a grudge” against Neha Shoree, the Zonal Licensing Authority at Mohali, for around 10 years, after his licence was revoked, said a police spokesperson.

The Hindu Business Line reports that when Ms Shoree raided Mr Balwinder’s pharmacy in 2009, she found a number of drugs of concern for which paperwork did not exist.

Ms Shoree had brought her five-year-old niece to the office for the first time, and the child witnessed the murder.

Ms Shoree was rushed to hospital but was declared dead on arrival.

Mr Balwinder attempted to flee the scene of the murder but crashed his motorcycle nearby, and then shot himself twice, killing himself.

The All-India Drugs Control Officers’ Confederation has condemned the murder and called for nation-wide mourning.

It also warned that many Drug Control Offices workers are vulnerable to retaliation.

“This is the situation in many of the Drugs Control Offices across the country, where we lack enough security and protection while discharging official duties.

“The nature of work of drugs control officials involves raids and investigations against illegal drug mafias and criminals, and many states do not have enough manpower and machinery to tackle such unscrupulous elements in society,” said Ravi Uday Bhaskar, Secretary General of AIDCOC.

Maidstone, UK: Staff at a pharmacy in New Ash Green, Kent gave a woman with shingles amlodipine instead of amitriptyline, an inquest has heard.

Eileen McAdie had been told by her GP that she could increase the dose of amitriptyline she was taking to manage severe shingles pain on her face and neck, the BBC reports, but the pharmacy workers dispensed the wrong medication, it says.

Ms McAdie died in hospital in September 2016.

The GP, Dr Julie Taylor, told the inquest that pharmacist Josiah Ghartey-Reindorf told her that the wrong medication had been given to Ms McAdie, with an assistant having put a label reading “amitriptyline” on the box of amlodipine.

The assistant testified that the pharmacy staff had been “rushed off their feet” with more than 300 scripts processed on the day in question.

 

Harare, Zimbabwe: Police have uncovered a stash of medicines worth US$500,000 (AUD$705,150) from a home in Harare and arrested suspects who implicated a former pharmacist.

Police had been informed that TICC Pharmaceuticals was distributing “cheap and low quality” drugs which were suspected to have been counterfeited, unregistered or stolen.

Newsday reports that Clever Farayi, Tatenda Innocent Rutsate and Graeme Munikwa are suspected of having stolen the medicines from a state warehouse.

They have been charged with unauthorised possession of drugs and bailed to await trial.

These three suspects have suggested to police that they and another man who held a wholesaler’s permit were working for Teddy Chindedza, a pharmacist whose licence had been withdrawn by the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe after he breached regulations.

Police are now looking for the former pharmacist.

 

Mangum, Oklahoma: A federal grand jury has indicted Jeffrey Terry, an Oklahoma pharmacy owner, after an investigation unearthed false claims submitted to SoonerCare and Medicare Part D for medicines which had never been prescribed.

Mr Terry has been charged with 40 felony counts relating to healthcare fraud, with officials saying he received nearly USD$1.1 million (AUD$1,410,300) in fraudulent earnings from the scheme.

“The ability to combine state and federal resources is one of our best assets when fighting fraud and corruption,” Attorney General Mike Hunter told Oklahoma’s News 4.

He thanked law enforcement officials for their help in addressing health care fraud in Oklahoma and “for helping us hold perpetrators accountable for these types of crimes”.

“We must do everything we can to protect the Medicaid system, which serves Oklahomans in need.”

Mr Terry faces up to 10 years in prison on each of the 40 counts, as well as fines of up to US$250,000 (AUD$352,575) as well as being required to pay restitution.

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