World news wrapup: 15 June 2017

Indian hospital negligent after pharmacist bungles birth; Canadian pharmacist beats up robbery suspect with pool cue; US drug prices under spotlight

New Delhi, India: A hospital has been fined and described as “negligent” after it allowed a pharmacist to deliver a baby – leaving a needle in the new mother’s body.

The Times of India reports that the woman gave birth at the Shree Jeewan Hospital in September 2009, and that after an episiotomy incision was later stitched up, the pharmacist left a needle in the woman’s uterus, resulting in “profuse bleeding and excruciating pain”.

The needle was not discovered until the next day, when the woman was given an X-ray. Until then, doctors had not paid attention to the woman’s pain and the fact that bed sheets had to be changed several times because of bleeding.

The hospital later allegedly altered records to show that a qualified doctor had delivered the baby, not the pharmacist.

The hospital was fined Rs 3,000,000 by the Delhi State Consumer Commission.


Windsor, Canada: An Ontario pharmacist, unfazed by the knife-wielding man who climbed over her counter and demanded drugs, responded by fighting the man off with a pool cue.

CBC News Canada reports that Sara Etemad-Rad promised to comply with the man’s demands and went into the back room of her Windsor pharmacy; but instead of giving him drugs she brought out an old pool cue and hit him over the head.

“Some people ask why I didn’t point at his eyes, but I was not trying to kill him, I was just trying to make him leave,” Ms Etemad-Rad told CBC News.

“So, I started beating him, basically. That’s all I did.”

Ms Etemad-Rad’s pharmacy had already been robbed in 2013 and 2015, and with a spike in pharmacy robberies in the area, she had discussed how to handle a potential robbery with staff only that morning.

Staff followed previously discussed procedures such as pressing an alarm and telling the man police had been alerted, but the pool cue, left behind by a previous pharmacy manager, had not been part of the plan but a decision made in the moment.

“I could not imagine myself going to pharmacy school for many years, and working in this pharmacy, and thinking I want to beat up somebody with this,” Ms Etemad-Rad said.


USA: America’s Consumer Reports says the country’s prescription medicine users are nearing a “crisis point” when it comes to affording their medicines, NBC News reports.

The company’s latest survey shows that at least 28 million Americans have seen a leap in their prescription medicines costs over the last year – and four million found themselves unable to afford to fill their scripts.

Consumer Reports spokesperson Lisa Gill said that companies could charge whatever they wanted.

“There’s nothing that puts a stop to it,” she said, suggesting that pharmacy benefit managers – which negotiate prices with drug companies and pharmacies on behalf of insurance companies – are a likely culprit.

“So consumers are actually in the centre of a battle between insurance companies and drug companies, and the way that they do business,” she said.

“Honestly, as far as we can tell, there are no brakes on it right now,” Consumer Reports concluded. “Congress may have a few things up its sleeve, but we’re still waiting.”


USA: Major groups representing chain drugstores and pharmacists have written to US President Donald Trump in a bid to prevent legislation which would allow drug imports from Canada, and potentially Europe down the road.

The American Pharmacists Association and National Association of Chain Drug Stores urged Mr Trump and officials to “refrain from endorsing pending legislative proposals that would allow for broad personal and commercial importation of non-(FDA) approved prescription drugs,” reports Drug Topics.

The legislation is supported by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and was introduced following an assertion by the President that pharmaceutical companies were “getting away with murder;” its intent is to push down the cost of medicines with low-cost imports.

The two groups pointed out that the Drug Supply Chain Security Act is undermined by drug importation; that both the FDA and Canadian government have in the past expressed concerns about importing drugs from Canada; that importation increases the risk of the supply chain being contaminated by counterfeits; and that importation detracts from value-based care.

They say that “the risk of foreign counterfeit drugs is too high, and the consequences for United States consumers are too deadly”.


UK: Pharmacy Minister David Mowat has lost his seat in the UK election, but will officially retain his responsibilities for the sector – despite no longer being an MP – until new ministers are appointed.

Following the news that the election had resulted in a hung Parliament, with the Conservatives planning to form Government with support from another party, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee made a statement saying it looked forward to continuing to work with other community pharmacy supporters in Parliament across all parties.

It said the campaign supporting community pharmacy over the last 18 months had been “extremely strong”.

“This support and the eventual formation of a new Government should give us a chance to rebuild constructive working relationships with ministers, in which we hope that the value and potential of community pharmacy will be fully recognised,” it said.

“PSNC will of course seek to begin discussions with health ministers at the earliest opportunity to develop policy to secure a strong future for community pharmacy,” said PSNC chief executive Sue Sharpe.

“We do know that the hard work put in by community pharmacy teams, LPCs and the national organisations last year led to community pharmacy being specifically mentioned in many of the parties’ manifestos. This is a first, and something we can build on over the coming months to increase the support we have for the sector.

“PSNC’s aim will be to ensure that any new Government understands fully the value and potential of community pharmacy.”

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