World news wrapup: 12 May 2016

New Zealand parliament buildings

Our weekly wrapup of pharmacy news from around the world

Nottingham, UK: A pharmacist has been criticised in UK media for allegedly putting a towel over the head of a breastfeeding baby.

Young mum Catherine Porter told the Nottingham Post that she was feeding her five-month-old daughter in the Canning Pharmacy when a pharmacist put a towel over the pair.

“I was waiting and my daughter got restless because she was hungry,” Porter told reporter Ben Ireland. “When I started to breastfeed, a man came over to me and chucked a really thick, heavy, dirty towel over me and me daughter.

“It wasn’t breathable material, and I don’t know what it had been used for. It was disgusting.

“I want to give my daughter the best possible start, but when something like this happens it’s just made me feel disgusting, which isn’t right.”

The pharmacist, who chose to remain anonymous, told the Post that he was trying to help.


Wellington, New Zealand: Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says a new technician role will help to free up Kiwi pharmacists so they can spend more time with patients.

“Pharmacists play an important part in helping to deliver faster more convenient healthcare,” says Dr Coleman.

“Many New Zealanders already benefit from the advice and care of their pharmacist. In order to help pharmacists spend more time with patients a new technician role has been developed.

“Pharmacy Accuracy Checking Technicians will be trained and certified to carry out the final check on a dispensed item, part of a process which currently sits with a pharmacist.

“The pharmacist would still ensure that the prescription is legally correct, clinically safe, appropriate to dispense, and talk with patients.”

The introduction of the new role follows a successful pilot in 2015 run by the Pharmaceutical Society on behalf of Health Workforce New Zealand.

Pharmacists involved in the pilot reported that they had significantly more time available to spend with patients. In one example, that jumped from 16 per cent of the pharmacist’s working day, to 48 per cent.

A framework has been developed to enable the national introduction of the new technician role later this year. The roll-out and training will be managed by the Pharmaceutical Society.


Phoenix, Arizona: An Arizona pharmacist, Bailey Marie McComb, has been accused of stealing more than 3,000 doses of oxycodone, hydrocodone and amphetamine salts while working at the Safeway Pharmacy in Show Low, Arizona.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich says a State Grand Jury indicted McComb on 14 felony counts of Fraudulent Schemes and Artifices, Computer Tampering, Obtaining Dangerous Drug by Fraud, Obtaining Narcotic Drug by Fraud, Aggravated Taking Identity of Another, Possession of a Narcotic Drug, Possession of a Dangerous Drug, Possession of Marijuana, and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.

In March 2015, Safeway Pharmacy noticed inventory losses involving dangerous and narcotic drugs. Safeway conducted a review and discovered digitally stored pharmacy patient profiles for some of the drugs dispensed, but there were no corresponding hard copies of the prescriptions in the store as would be expected.

Safeway also reviewed store surveillance videos and allegedly observed McComb create patient profiles and dispense medications after store hours.

Brian Timothy Ellis Witmer, a pharmacist intern, was also charged with five drug-related offenses in the same indictment.


Wellington, New Zealand: The New Zealand pharmacy profession is concerned about the country’s move to deregulate pharmacy ownership, moving from the current split model – where a pharmacy may be part owned by a non-pharmacist, but not more than 49% – to a model where any “fit and proper person” could own pharmacies.

Lee Hohaia, Pharmacy Guild of New Zealand chief executive, writes in Pharmacy Today that 94% of Guild members want ownership rules to stay the way they are.

“Who knows the sector better than those that are currently working in it or using it?” Hohaia writes.

“Those that already own and work in pharmacies every day, those that see patients every day, dispense medicine, counsel patients, and provide healthcare and advice from a community pharmacy setting.

“Surely their extensive experience in the industry will provide the most insightful information as to what will benefit our patients and what will be detrimental?

“Key concerns our members have surround the risk to patient safety if ownership is opened up and the ambiguity about what this will mean for the provision of patient-centric services.”


UK: Pharmacies in London are in greater danger of being “wiped out” than those in other parts of England, says Pharmacy London.

Chemist + Druggist reports that Rekha Shah, chief executive of Pharmacy London, is concerned the planned 6% cut to pharmacy funding will disproportionately affect pharmacies in urban areas including the capital.

She says that Government plans to remove funding from pharmacies that exist in a “cluster” will impact customers. Judging distances between pharmacies in rural areas is very different to judging distances in urban areas, she warns.

“Clusters are needed in London because of what they offer,” Shah told C+D.

“They tailor their services to meet the diverse cultural and language needs that we have in the capital.”

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