World news wrapup: 7 October 2021


Irish pharmacist slams “show trial” over Facebook like; US licence exam bungle; jail over $17m in claims for unnecessary compounded meds scripts

Dublin, Ireland: A pharmacist has slammed allegations against her after she shared a Facebook post questioning a vaccine, saying her hearing before a fitness to practice committee amounts to a “show trial”.

The Independent reports that Janet Dillon, the owner of a Stoneybatter pharmacy, had shared a video posted by Regret, a group opposed to the Gardasil vaccine, on her pharmacy’s Facebook page.

Using her personal profile, she had also “liked” a comment on the video which said, “Wouldn’t be giving that vaccine to my daughter. It is not safe”.

The Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland contended that in liking the comment, Ms Dillon had participated in conduct “infamous or disgraceful in a professional respect”.

It said that comments made by girls in the video, claiming a link between their health conditions and having received Gardasil, were “totally and utterly at odds with the unequivocal science on this issue”.

Ms Dillon had previously said she could give an undertaking not to comment on vaccine policy, but said the PSI declined because its registrar “wanted a political show trial with the opportunity to publicly humiliate me through the mass media and virtue-signal on behalf of the PSI its unquestioning obedience to State vaccine policy”.

She denied being an anti-vaxxer and pointed out that her pharmacies had been providing flu and COVID-19 vaccine services.

She also claimed previous “victimisation” by the PSI and that the matter was a “David v Goliath contest”.

She did not actually attend the hearing, as she was unable to find a locum to run her pharmacy and her barrister could not attend that day. Instead, the comments were read out as part of a statement by her solicitor.

 

US: Corporate Crime Reporter has criticised the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy over a bungle in which more than 400 pharmacy graduates had been told they failed their exam – when they passed.

The North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX) is evaluates general practice knowledge and is taken by recent college of pharmacy graduates shortly after they receive their degree. The exam is also taken by foreign-educated pharmacists who have earned FPGEC Certification.

“Approximately 430 NAPLEX candidates who took the exam between August 31 and September 8 received initial results that were incorrect,” reads a statement on the NABP’s website.

“This occurred as a result of a system update that affected the NAPLEX scoring process.

“Those results were corrected and an e-mail was sent on Friday, September 17, to all affected candidates with their correct results and our sincere apologies for this situation.

“If you took the NAPLEX exam either before or after those dates, your NAPLEX score has not been affected and has not changed. The MPJE scoring was not affected by the system update. Thank you for your patience as we continue to address this.”

CCC referred to the matter as a “nightmare” for students who had been told they failed.

“You study hard. You feel good about it. And you think you did well…” its editorial says. “And then you get an email saying – you failed.”

CCC also notes that 20 students were told they had passed, when they failed.

“Would NABP provide compensation to those adversely affected by the ‘system update’?” it asks.

 

Los Angeles, California: An Orange County pharmacist has been sentenced to 70 months in federal prison for submitting more than US$13 million (AUD$17,896,593) in claims for medically unnecessary compounded medication prescriptions.

Thu Van Le, also known as Tony Le, was also ordered to pay US$10,982,759 (AUD$15,119,536) in restitution to Tricare, the US military’s managed health care plan, and US$768,488 (AUD$1,057,947) in restitution to Amplan, Amtrak’s employee health care benefit plan.

Mr Le, a pharmacist who owned TC Medical Pharmacy in Corona, pleaded guilty on July 12 to one count of health care fraud, said the US Attorney’s Office, Central District of California in a statement.

Between March 2015 and December 2016, Mr Le’s pharmacy submitted more than US$13 million in total claims to Tricare and AmPlan, against which Tricare paid $10,982,759 and AmPlan paid $768,488

In turn Mr Le paid so-called “marketers” kickbacks of up to 50% of the Tricare reimbursements.

These marketers used personal and insurance information to generate fraudulent prescriptions for compounded medications, according to court documents.

Marketers who participated in the scheme solicited beneficiaries of the health plans through misleading cold calls that promised free compounded medications. In some cases, beneficiaries were not contacted at all and simply received expensive medications that they did not order.

 

UK: Boots pharmacies are planning to offer patients “GP-style” health appointments for as little as £15 (AUD$28.11), reports The Sun.

Boots chief executive Seb James said that “The NHS is under a lot of pressure with the pandemic, and that will only get worse when the winter wave hits

“We have this incredible resource—highly-trained pharmacists in hundreds of stores around the country—which isn’t being used to its full potential.

“Rather than wait two weeks to see a GP, people can get immediate diagnosis, treatment and medication for the price of a Nando’s.”

Prices will start at £15, which covers an appointment and script cost.

The Sun’s Chris Pollard also spoke to Dr Raghib Ali, a consultant in acute medicine at Oxford University Hospitals Trust, who said doctors approved of the idea of patients visiting pharmacies for such consults.

“The simple fact is, there aren’t enough GPs to meet demand.

“Patients with simple conditions often wait two weeks for an appointment.

“Pharmacists are extremely capable. They train for only one year less than doctors, and usually know more about medications.

“It makes perfect sense to use their skills to take some pressure off the hard-pressed NHS.”

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