World news wrapup: 4 October 2018

Pharmacist jailed over plot to kill his ex; “steep increase” in UK pharmacy closures; man wins discrimination case against Irish Boots store

Ontario, Canada: A pharmacist has been jailed for six years after he unwittingly hired an undercover police officer to kill his former partner.

The Waterloo Region Record reports that Doug Shier, the former co-owner of Sullivan’s Pharmacy in East City, wanted to stop paying monthly support payments to the former partner.

Justice Joseph Di Luca noted that Mr Shier’s offence was “chilling” as well as “calculated and cold”.

A police confidential informant tipped them off that Mr Shier wanted to have his former partner murdered, and law enforcement responded by sending an undercover officer into Mr Shier’s pharmacy.

The first officer passed on the details of a man she said could help with Mr Shier’s problem, and when he did not call the number, another undercover officer came to the pharmacy to pose as the hit man.

The two met in the pharmacy’s parking lot and Mr Shier paid a deposit of 10% on a CAD$15,000 (AUD$16,286) fee. The officer told the pharmacist that he had a few days to change his mind, but the pharmacist confirmed he wanted the former partner to be killed.

Justice Di Luca noted that the offence was largely motivated by Mr Shier’s wish to stop paying support to his former partner, and that he wanted the body found to facilitate this.

He said Mr Shier had intent for first-degree murderer, and if the policeman had in fact been a contract killer, Mr Shier would have likely been sentenced to life imprisonment.


UK: Britain’s Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee says around 165 pharmacies have closed between October 2016 and July 2018 – a “steep increase,” on expected closures, reports Chemist + Druggist.

The cuts went into effect in December 2016. C + D had previously predicted that around 140 pharmacies would close between November 2016 and May 2018.

The number of closures was identified by PSNC director of funding Mike Dent at the PSNC’s local pharmaceutical committee conference in Birmingham.

C + D reports that NHS Digital data indicates only an average of 40 pharmacies closed each year until 2016.

PSNC CEO Simon Dukes said that the true extent of the funding cuts would be hard to uncover, as the community pharmacy sector has “absorbed the hit” by “using up reserves, using credit, taking out loans and subsidising their business”.

“This is no way to run a key part of the healthcare system,” he said.


Ireland: A man has won a discrimination case against a Boots pharmacy where he was queried over his intent to purchase hydrogen peroxide, The Journal reports.

The man, of Algerian origin, complained to the Workplace Relations Commission after he went to the pharmacy to buy products including vinegar, witch hazel, hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol and bicarbonate of soda.

The purchase followed his wife’s growing interest in natural cleaning products, he said.

While at the pharmacy, he was questioned over his purchase and told he needed a prescription to buy the peroxide, due to pharmacy policy.

He was also told it was not designed for the purpose he wanted, and was not in stock, though the staff member could order it.

The man went to another pharmacy where he bought the products, and then asked an Irish friend to go to the first Boots and see if they could purchase hydrogen peroxide.

The friend was also told the item was not in stock, but was not asked any questions about the purchase.

Boots responded to the complaint by saying that the staff’s actions were taken “in order to comply with company procedures and legislation in relation to the control of explosive precursors [in this case, hydrogen peroxide]”.

The WRC noted that Irish and EU regulations do not apply to sales of hydrogen peroxide at concentration levels at or below 12%, and the product the man had attempted to buy was at a concentration level of 6%.

It found the man had been discriminated against because of his race, though not his religion, and had been treated less favourably than his Irish counterpart.

Boots was ordered to pay €700 (AUD$1129) to compensate the man for his distress over the incident.


New Delhi, India: Pharmacists across India went on strike on Friday in a protest against online pharmacies, the Times of India reports.

According to the All India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists, government moves to regulate e-pharmacies pose both a risk to existing bricks-and-mortar pharmacies, and to public health.

“The seriousness of the issue is evident through numerous cases of illegal online sale of medicines by the so-called e-pharmacies and online portals,” said Sandeep Nangia, AIOCD organising secretary and president of the Retail Distributors Chemists Association.

“While the drug prices have been regulated by the government, online portals offer discounts up to 70% against a 10% discount available at wholesalers.”

The pharmacists are also concerned about the risk of drug abuse and fake medicines.

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