World News Wrapup: 2 June 2016

emergency department front entrance (pharmacy could relieve pressure)

Our weekly wrapup of pharmacy news from around the globe

Northvale, New Jersey: A pharmacist in New Jersey recently helped rescue a 10-year-old girl who was having an acute asthma attack, Pharmacy Times reports.

The pharmacist, Suzanne Soliman, from the US Pharmacy Lab in Northvale received a call from a paediatrician, ordering prednisolone for the girl, Madison Tracy.

The family had already called 911 seeking help for Tracy, and Dr Soliman realised she would need to take the medicine to the girl immediately.

“I figured it would be necessary to drive it to the patient, given the fact that the patient did not have a steroid at home, and the paramedics do not administer the steroid,” Dr Soliman told Pharmacy Times.

Dr Soliman found Tracy in acute respiratory distress and undergoing a nebuliser treatment. She gave Tracy the medication and waited until she was safely in the ambulance.

She told Pharmacy Times that the incident could help break down some stereotypes about what pharmacists do.

“I really believe, as pharmacists, we can do so much and are so accessible to the community,” she said. “It was amazing how many people on site said, ‘Wow, I didn’t know a pharmacist could do that.’”


Marlborough, New Zealand: A Picton pharmacist has found himself locked out of his own consulting room thanks to what he calls “bureaucratic nonsense” from the Ministry of Health, reports New Zealand Doctor.

Chris Webb was intended to have a purpose-built consulting room, to give patients privacy during discussions, at his pharmacy at the Picton Medical Centre. However just before the new pharmacy was to open late last year, it was discovered that the room had “too many doors”.

The Ministry would not allow Webb to use the room for its intended purpose because to access it, Webb needs to leave the pharmacy through a door, walk a few steps down a corridor and enter the consulting room through another door. This means it does not meet Ministry of Health regulations.

Pharmacy licensing laws specify that a pharmacy must be a specifically-defined area in which all pharmacy practice occurs, in order to be licensed. This means Webb would be technically leaving the pharmacy to use his consulting room.

Webb told New Zealand Doctor that the room is now being used for breaks and storage while he has to find “the quietest corner of the shop” to have sensitive discussions with patients.

“The whole thing is just a bureaucratic nonsense,” he says.


Westminster, Colorado: A fifth-grader has been awarded a lab coat and a medallion reading, “Future Pharmacist” after she wrote a letter to the CU Skaggs School of Pharmacy, seeking admission to the graduate school.

Natalia Zielinksi wrote to the school as part of a writing assignment, reports 9News.

“I always care for my little sister when she is sick,” she wrote. “It’s always hard for me to see someone so sick so weak lying in bed helplessly.

“Well, I want to help those people. I want to be the person that makes all kinds of predictions, experiments, and in the end have a medication that can heal a sickness.”

Students from the Pharmacy School came to a special Assembly at Natalia’s school where she was awarded the gifts.

“We would love to see her be a pharmacist one day,” said pharmacy student Kelsey Schwander.


China: A Chinese e-commerce company, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, has told vendors on its Tmall website to stop selling medicine and that a local regulator has issued an urgent directive to stop drug sales on third-party platforms, Reuters reports.

“Alibaba, in a notice dated May 27 seen by Reuters, cited a circular from the Hebei province branch of the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) on “urgent control measures relating to drug products”, says Reuters. The company did not go into why.

“The regulator’s surprise directive comes as the government promotes retail sales of over-the-counter (OTC) medicine, with a pledge to harness technology to solve issues as varied as high drug prices and snarling hospital queues.”

Currently drug sales are dominated by public hospitals.

“The directive only applies to drug sales on marketplace websites, Alibaba said. Such sites, however, generally provide the bulk of traffic to pharmacies and drugmakers selling online.”

According to a company spokeswoman, Alibaba’s medical products site is “cooperating and complying with the government’s new policy to stop online drug sales on third-party platforms,” Reuters reports.


UK: The UK’s pharmacy minister, Alistair Burt MP, has “backtracked” on claims that up to 3000 pharmacies could close following planned funding cuts of 6%, Chemist + Druggist reports.

C+D quotes the Minister as saying that it “was not the aim of the government to close pharmacies” in the House of Commons.

He said that he did not yet know how funding would fall when queried about how the cuts would affect independent pharmacies and those in low socioeconomic areas.

“I accept it was me who said to the meeting with the all-party [pharmacy] group that up to 3,000 pharmacies could be affected, but it may not happen that way at all.”

He said the proposed system of pharmacy funding will take into account areas of deprivation and will not be allocated purely on location.

Labour MPs defended the pharmacy sector, highlighting the “massive opposition” to the planned cuts.

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