World news wrapup: 8 November 2018

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Royalties suit to go ahead in Canada; pharmacist blackmailed for dating site actions; few cannabis scripts expected in England

Quebec, Canada: Quebec’s Superior Court has green-lighted a class action by pharmacist franchisees against the Groupe Jean Coutu, reports The Province.

Groupe Jean Coutu is a Quebec-based drugstore chain with more than 400 franchised locations around Canada.

The pharmacist owners, who have come together under the Sopropharm banner, say a clause in their contract, dealing with royalties to the chain based on sales percentages, is in breach of their code of ethics.

This code of ethics prohibits pharmacists from sharing fees and benefits from sales of dispensed drugs with non-pharmacists.

They also say these royalties are in excess of services the Group Jean Coutu brand provides them.

The Sopropharm pharmacists are seeking the repayment of a “surplus” backdated five years, as well as the removal of the royalties clause from their contracts.


Pune, India: A pharmacist has been bilked of more than 650,000 Indian rupees (AUD$12,300) by a contact he made on a dating site.

The Hindustan Times reports that the 34-year-old pharmacist was blackmailed by the individual, who called to inform him that they had seen his dating profile and would contact the police regarding his actions on the site if he did not pay them.

The person also asked the pharmacist to pay to have his profile deleted.

After paying the money, the pharmacist contacted police, who are investigating the case as a cybercrime.


England: Only “very few” people will be able to get prescriptions for medicinal cannabis in England, reports the Pharmaceutical Journal.

The NHS published new guidance for patients this week which explains that the medication is only expected to be prescribed for children with rare severe forms of epilepsy; adults with chemotherapy-caused vomiting or nausea; and adults with MS who have muscle spasticity.

NHS staff have been contacted to explain that medicinal cannabis based products should only be prescribed where there is clear published evidence to support doing so, clinical need which cannot be served by a licensed medicine, and where other established treatment options have failed.

Community pharmacies are unlikely to receive a lot of scripts for medicinal cannabis, a Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee spokesperson told The Pharmaceutical Journal.


Marlborough, New Zealand: A group of 11 pharmacists and pharmacy technicians have voted to take strike action against the Nelson Marlborough District Health Board, citing frustration over the board’s failure to settle their collective agreement.

The employees have been attempting to bargain for the agreement for more than a year, reports Stuff.

The pharmacists and technicians plan to walk off the job at Nelson and Wairau Hospitals for 24 hours on November 16.

According to Dr Deborah Powell, national secretary of the union representing the workers, there have been “ongoing” issues with staffing, including hiring and retaining workers.

“In a small but essential group of workers such as this, the loss of even one staff member, let alone for a lengthy period of time, takes its toll on those remaining,” said Dr Powell.

Stuff reports that similar situations are underway around the nation, with hospital pharmacists being paid less than those in the community sector.

A spokesperson for the Nelson Marlborough District Health Board said the news was disappointing but the Board was hopeful of resolution with the “highly-valued” employees.

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