World news wrapup: 14 July 2016

We take a look at the world’s pharmacy news over the last week

Venezuela: When Venezuela temporarily lifted a year-old closure of its border with Colombia, tens of thousands of people streamed into the neighbouring country to buy food and medicine, reports.

Venezuela has been suffering from a massive shortage of drugs for some time, prompting the Venezuela Pharmaceutical Federation to demand the country’s president declare a humanitarian emergency.

The medicines in shortage range from antibiotics to cancer and AIDS drugs.

“The national government must accept we are in a humanitarian crisis in the health sector, with patients dying across our territory for lack of medicines,” said association president Freddy Ceballos.


Ireland: A shortage of medicines in Ireland is worsening, with access to contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy drugs, as well as thyroid treatments, becoming limited, the Irish Examiner reports.

A survey conducted on behalf of healthcare technology and services group Clanwilliam found that 63% of pharmacists said dealing with shortages had become “significantly worse” in the past year, with another 29% saying they had become “somewhat worse”.

“Shortages can delay therapeutic treatment and have a serious impact on patient health. Such shortages are also a major source of anxiety, as patients can become understandably worried in cases where they don’t know whether or not they will be able to access a medicine,” said Pharmacist and chair of the Clanwilliam Pharmacist Awards Ultan Molloy.

The study also showed that more than a quarter of pharmacists are spending between five and 10 hours a week clarifying or correcting prescriptions.


London, UK: A North London man who targeted pharmacies in the Tottenham area, threatening staff with a knife and demanding cash, was caught when he attempted to rob one of the pharmacies a second time – while the police were inside.

Darren Loizou was jailed for six and a half years for four counts of robbery against the pharmacies earlier this year.

When police attended one of the pharmacies which had been robbed by Loizou earlier, they were in an office taking statements from staff when they heard somebody in the store itself demanding money from the till, the Evening Standard reports. Loizou fled on foot, but was caught.


UK: Britain’s General Pharmaceutical Council has released a report that examines the performance of Black-African candidates in the registration assessment between 2013 and 2015.

The GPhC had previously found that the pass rate was very different for different ethnic groups, with 93% of white British trainees who identified their ethnicity passing the first time, compared to 55% of black African trainees.

“This research highlights the complex interplay of factors that influence the experience and performance of Black-African students during their education and training to become a pharmacist,” says Duncan Rudkin, chief executive of the GPhC.

“While we can draw no firm conclusions from the report, it does offer important insights which will be of interest to range of bodies within and outside of pharmacy; and will inform our approach to equality and diversity issues in our review of education and training standards.”

Factors which the report identified as potentially influencing the pass rates included age (a significant proportion of black African candidates were mature age students who might have family or financial responsibilities affecting their studies), overseas education and explicit bias.

Some students reported incidents of prejudice and bias during their work-based training year, the GPhC said. There was also a perceived lack of Black-African role models within the pharmacy education and training pathway.

The report does note, however, that many Black-African trainee pharmacists — including overseas students and mature students — are highly motivated, do not experience the impact of the disadvantaging factors and are very successful in their education and training.

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