World news wrapup: 11 May 2017

Catching robbers in Ohio, flood aftermath in New Zealand, addressing pharmacy violence in Northern Ireland, and new drug use approach in Ireland

Middletown, Ohio: Police were able to track down three alleged robbers after a pharmacist slipped a tracking device into a bag with drugs they demanded.

Over the past seven months there have been a rash of pharmacy robberies in Dayton, Columbus, Cincinatti and Middletown, in Southwest and central Ohio. According to police suspects in all of the robberies and attempted robberies, of 26 pharmacies, have used similar methods.

When the three men went to the Rite Aid in Middletown and demanded prescription pills from a safe, the quick-thinking pharmacist put a GPS device in the bag with them while her colleagues were forced to lie on the ground.

The tracker gave police turn-by-turn directions to the suspects as they drove away, reports WLWT5 News. In the back seat, police found 2,180 pills that had been taken from the pharmacy.


Edgecumbe, New Zealand: A pharmacist in Edgecumbe has told of her frustration at the uncertainty over her pharmacy’s immediate future after it was badly damaged in the April flood.

Megan Aldridge, whose pharmacy was in the Riverslea Mall, told Pharmacy Today reporter Janie Cameron that “the whole pharmacy is in a skip bin, or in a pile in the carpark outside along with all the other buildings”.

“There’s nothing left; no carpet, no floor coverings, no shelves, counters, nothing.”

Ms Aldridge and her staff are now operating a temporary pharmacy in a nearby town, but have had “no indication” of when they will be able to return to Edgecumbe.

She is also concerned that her insurance will not cover all the damage, and that the offer of Government funding may not be enough to help the town recover.

Many locals are still living in motels or have left the area.

“It’s just heartbreaking,” she told Pharmacy Today. “I cried when I drove through the town the first time. Everyone’s life is just in a big, soggy, muddy mess in front of their house.”


Northern Ireland, UK: Northern Ireland’s Health and Social Care Board plans to launch a review into the safety of pharmacy staff, reports Chemist + Druggist.

The move follows “a number of violent thefts” across the country including the stabbing of two pharmacists in an unsuccessful attempt to steal tramadol.

HSCB head of pharmacy Joe Brogan told C+D that the board had been “absolutely aghast and appalled” by the incident, and considered the verbal and physical abuse of pharmacy workers to be “absolutely unacceptable”.

The Board and other stakeholders are developing training for pharmacy staff about safety at work, and Mr Brogan has reached out to the Northern Ireland police service to try to establish the existing level of safety in pharmacy and “where the gaps are”.


Dublin, Ireland: Possession of small amounts of illegal drugs for personal use should be treated as a health problem rather than a criminal issue, the President of the Irish Pharmacy Union, Daragh Connolly, told the organisation’s National Pharmacy Conference.

People with drug problems should be given the same level of care as people with other health issues, he says.

“Addressing the drug problem in Ireland is a balancing act between preventing illicit use of drugs and associated health problems and ensuring access to treatment for those addicted to drugs.

“The World Health Organisation has acknowledged that people with drug disorders deserve the same level of care as patients with any other health condition. Health services need to be able to identify drug use and drug use disorders at an early stage and provide prevention, treatment and harm reduction interventions.”

And pharmacists should be at the vanguard of changing the approach to drug use, he says.

“We already provide opiate substitution using methadone; we provide needle exchange services in areas of need; we provide a crucial point of contact with healthcare for those whose problems have made them outsiders in our society. We want to do more.”

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