World news wrapup: 8 March 2018

Shopping strip in Valletta, Malta.

Pharmacist shortage in Malta; ‘lowest of the low’ steal charity tins from UK pharmacy; NZ pharmacist censured after leaving controlled drugs unsecured

Malta: Malta is facing a pharmacist shortage, the country’s Medicines Authority Chairman Anthony Serracino Inglott has stated.

Times Malta reports that the veteran pharmacist said Malta is only producing about 20 pharmacists a year, but there is currently a shortage of around 200. Malta has a population of 431,686.

The country will need to investigate ways to encourage people into the profession, he told reporters.

“Many might mistakenly believe that pharmacists are just those people behind a counter handing out pills,” he said.

“The truth is however, that the industry has changed drastically and while the traditional role of a pharmacist in a dispensary remains, we are also seeing a lot of new job opportunities.”


Evesham, England: Thieves have stolen charity collection boxes from a West Midlands pharmacy when it was robbed earlier this week.

Arfan Talib, manager of the Stewarts Pharmacy in Waterside, Evesham, told the Worcester News that the collection boxes were “quite full” with around £30 (AUD$53.50) to £40 (AUD$71.30) destined for St Richard’s Hospice and Evesham Cardiac Rehab Centre.

“To steal from a pharmacy is bad enough, but to steal collection boxes really is the lowest of the low,” Mr Talib said.

“We were disgusted to find out what had happened. It is not about the money taken but that people would think to steal from charities and I did not expect that, particularly around here.”

The thieves smashed their way into the pharmacy through a window and stole £100 (AUD$178.30).


Auckland, New Zealand: A pharmacist has been censured and conditions set on his practice if he were to return to the country and work in the profession.

Jawahar Bhaskar Musuku has been found guilty of professional misconduct, failing to comply with legislative and ethical standards set for the profession and to safely operate a pharmacy, having “persistently” disregarded safe dispensing and controlled drug procedures.

He faced 13 allegations regarding incidents including the failure to ensure unpreserved methylprednisolone eye drops were stored and dispensed correctly, with expiry dates uncertain due to lack of labelling; and failed to operate the pharmacy in compliance with legal requirements for controlled drugs between September 2011 and February 2015.

When the pharmacy was sold in February 2015 the new owners found a “large box” of controlled drugs left in the storeroom. These had not been recorded in the controlled drugs register.

He also failed to respond openly or promptly to requests for information relating to requests for information by the Office of the Health and Disability Commissioner, which was investigating a customer complaint.

Mr Musuku was censured and should he return to practise in New Zealand, must undertake a Pharmacy Council law and ethics course and be subject to the imposition of a supervising mentor for 12 months.

Mr Musuku had become bankrupt before the disciplinary hearing, but the Tribunal ordered that he pay 30% of court costs, totalling NZ$41,500 (AUD$38,800).


US: The Food and Drug Administration has warned Americans to be careful not to buy unapproved products to treat flu, following an increase in concerns that they may be doing so because of this year’s unusually bad flu season.

The FDA is particularly worried that patients may be buying counterfeit drugs including antivirals from websites which appear to be legitimate online pharmacies, but are not.

“This year the flu has been widespread, impacting millions of patients across the country, and leading to a new record number of flu-related hospitalizations,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb.

“As the flu continues to make people sick — and even cause deaths — unscrupulous actors may also be taking advantage of unsuspecting consumers by promoting their fraudulent products that have not been reviewed by the FDA to be safe and effective.

“The FDA is warning consumers to be alert, and try and steer clear of fraudulent flu products, which may be found online or in retail stores.”

He warns that there are no legally marketed OTC drugs to prevent or cure the flu, only to relieve symptoms.

Consumers are advised to watch out for claims that a product reduces the severity or length of the flu; boosts immunity naturally without vaccination or is a safe, effective alternative to the flu vaccine; prevents somebody from catching flu, among other suspicious signs.

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