World news wrapup: 13 August 2020


Canadian pharmacist suspended over forged scripts for amphetamines; COVID-19 reports in UK community pharmacy; Virginia pharmacy students left in limbo

Calgary, Alberta: A Canadian pharmacist has had his registration suspended for 30 months after he was found to have found scripts for himself in order to fraudulently obtain medicines including amphetamines and zopiclone, for his personal use.

The Alberta College of Pharmacy issued a statement outlining that over a 105-day period, the pharmacist forged scripts on 10 occasions under the signatures of four different which he presented to four different pharmacies to fraudulently obtain drugs, including amphetamines.

In doing so, the Hearing Tribunal found that the pharmacist breached the most fundamental elements of trust, integrity, and professionalism.

The Tribunal said it was sympathetic to the pharmacist’s particular personal circumstances, but found that “to have a regulated member of the College forging prescriptions for drugs, including amphetamines, strikes at the very heart of what the practice of pharmacy is about and speaks against the clear vision of the College which is ‘Healthy Albertans through excellence in pharmacy practice’.

“Because of [the pharmacist’s] lack of ownership of the seriousness of the conduct he does require significant sanctions to deter him specifically.

“A regulated member forging prescriptions to obtain amphetamines fraudulently is an assault on the very reason pharmacy exists in the health care system and requires a strong message sent by the College to the membership about this type of misconduct.”

After the 30-month suspension, the pharmacist will be expected to fulfil other conditions such as being subject to direct supervision for at least 12 months.

He was also fined CAD$5000 (AUD$5,270) and told to foot costs of around CAD$32,000 (AUD$33,725).

 

UK: The UK’s Health and Safety watchdog has received six reports of staff at community pharmacies contracting COVID-19 in their workplace, reports the Pharmaceutical Journal.

The Health and Safety Executive revealed in a written answer to Parliament, responding to a question from the House of Lords, that “six notifications of COVID-19 disease (non-fatal) … between 10 April and 25 July 2020” occurred due to disease reporting requirements.

The Journal reports that the Pharmacists’ Defence Association offered its best wishes to the affected pharmacy staff.

“Whilst we welcome the cases now starting to be identified in pharmacy, we reiterate our encouragement for community pharmacy employers who have not yet reported previous instances of likely exposure to coronavirus in their workplace, to do so as soon as possible,” the PDA said. “Late reporting is better than never reporting these cases.”

In July it had said it was “inconceivable, or it means that some employers have failed to meet their reporting obligations” that there had been no reports of cases of the novel coronavirus being contracted in community pharmacy.

 

Morgantown, West Virginia: A pharmacist who is already in prison following an illegal drug distribution conviction has now been handed another sentence of between one and 10 years, after he forged his former wife’s signature.

Scott Tingler forged his now ex-wife Amy’s signature on almost US$2 million (AUD$2,809,758) in loans, reports the Times West Virginia. Ms Tingler is also a pharmacist.

Mr Tingler was already serving time for conspiring with others to distribute what the Times calls “massive” amounts of oxycodone – at least 7,400g – around North Central West Virginia and beyond.

As well as pleading guilty to these charges, he pleaded guilty on charges relating to filing a false tax return and was imprisoned for 10 years in a federal prison. He also agreed to permanently surrender his registration as a pharmacist and pay more than half a million US dollars in restitution to former employees as well as the Internal Revenue Service.

Amy Tingler said that she and their three children had been “living through a total nightmare” since federal agents raided their home in 2018.

The court heard that Mr Tingler had forged her signature on the loans to obtain funds to keep his oxycodone operation, as well as his two pharmacies and several local apartments, up and running.

Since he was arrested and convicted on the drug charges he has defaulted on the loans.

“This was someone who had access to all my personal information, my Social Security number, and the answers to various questions only he would know,” said Amy Tingler.

“Nobody even cared about even Googling his name. Scott said he was ‘going to take the paperwork home for my wife to sign’ and that was okay for them. He brought the paperwork back to the bank and they notarized it, even though I wasn’t there to sign it.”

 

Hampton, Virginia: A university has filed a federal civil lawsuit against the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education, which it alleges unfairly took away the institution’s accreditation for its pharmacy school.

Hampton University says that the decision to remove the accreditation earlier this year was a “bizarrely contradictory and Kafkaesque bureaucratic process rife with bias and revenge,” reports WAVY.

As well as seeking for the withdrawal to be reversed, the university is also seeking compensatory and punitive damages.

Earlier this year, the accreditation was withdrawn on the grounds of noncompliance with student progression through the pharmacy studies program, and only partial compliance with assessment standards.

But the university says it has tried on several occasions to solve the problem, saying the ACPE has not been “receptive” to reversing the accreditation decision after the Hampton University School of Pharmacy made improvements to its processes.

“If ACPE’s arbitrary action is not reversed, then the accrediting agency will have unilaterally terminated an extremely important community-oriented pharmacy program at one of the nation’s premier Historically Black Colleges and Universities during a pandemic that has disproportionately
impacted those communities which HUSOP serves,” the University alleges.

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