World news wrapup: 1 June 2017

apples in a bin

Free apples for patients in New Zealand; Texas pharmacist spots alleged fraud; strikes across sector in India; and UK Health Department admits pharmacy funding errors

Dunedin, New Zealand: The Albany Street Pharmacy is taking the old adage – an apple a day keeps the doctor away – quite literally, offering free apples to patients.

Pharmacy Today reports that this is good news for broke local students: the pharmacy is located near the main Otago University campus and student health services. The pharmacy’s owner, Debbie Young, heard via social media that students were often left with only a dollar to last the week, with no more resources to buy food, and decided to create a unique offer.

“Originally it started when we had a free supply of apples, but it was so popular that we started buying them,” she told Pharmacy Today. Apples are offered to every customer, whether they buy anything or not.


Colleyville, Texas: An astute pharmacist helped identify a woman accused of fraud.

The Times Record News reports that Shaina Marie Wiggins phoned the pharmacy and identified herself as “Sharon” from the Electra Clinic in Iowa Park, “calling in” a prescription. She requested 50mg of Tramadol for Wiggins, to be taken every eight to six hours.

The pharmacist listened to the “unclear” call several times and became suspicious that the caller had used the terminology “eight to six hours” instead of the usual “six to eight”.

He called the prescribing clinic, who told him they had no record of Ms Wiggins being a patient there.

When she called him again to see if the prescription had been called in, he told her it would be ready in about an hour as he needed to verify that the called-in script was legitimate. As he was unable to do so, he called police when Ms Wiggins was in the pharmacy’s drive-through waiting to pick up the script.

He also gave them a prescription history on Ms Wiggins, which included an “unusually high number” of prescriptions filled at several pharmacies in the area, five of which were for Tramadol or Hydrocodone and which had abnormally close refill dates.


India: Nearly 850,000 pharmacies closed this week as pharmacists went on strike to protest proposed e-pharmacy regulations.

The Indian Express reports that the All India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists (AIOCD) called for a nationwide protest against the regulations, which pharmacists say would see bricks and mortar pharmacies face stiff competition and lose money.

“The association believes that the proposal of e-portal will lead to scarcity of medicines in the country,” said AIOCD president Jagannath Shinde.

The organisation is also concerned that the sale of psychotropic substances will increase online while drug quality will be difficult to guarantee.


UK: Britain’s Department of Health made errors when deciding on the amount of protection from funding cuts pharmacies should receive, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee has said.

According to PSNC, the Department has written to all pharmacies receiving funding from the Pharmacy Access Scheme (PhAS), which was introduced in December 2016 to protect some pharmacies from the full effect of the overall cuts to the sector.

These pharmacies needed to be located a mile or more from another pharmacy by road, and not be in the top 25% best performing businesses by dispensing volume.

“Community pharmacy contractors were informed at the end of March 2017 that PSNC had identified issues with the PhAS payments,” PSNC said in a statement.

“The extent of the problems has now become clear. The problems arose because DH had not calculated PhAS payments in accordance with the Drug Tariff and this has led to inaccurate payments being made to contractors.

“DH identified that in the three months before March 2017 under-payments were made to some contractors and over-payments were made to others.”

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