World news wrapup: 2 March 2017

We take a look at community pharmacy around the world

Belanguru, India: A pharmacist’s plot to “expose” an e-pharmacy’s trade in banned drugs has backfired on him after it filed a police complaint.

The Deccan Herald reports that Charan Raj, a pharmacist with the online pharmacy PharmEasy, placed an order with a rival store, TimelyMed, using the name of a fake prescriber on the prescription.

TimelyMed delivered drugs including Corex (a codeine-containing cough syrup), as well as a prescription-only antibiotic, metformin, and Nurokind (mecobalamin).

Later, TimelyMed had concerns about the prescription Mr Raj had used, and confronted him; Mr Raj replied that he had “exposed” them.

TimelyMed filed a complaint against him and he was soon arrested, despite protests that he was conducting a “case study”.

A non-profit with which Mr Raj is associated has now lodged a complaint against TimelyMed, claiming it supplies banned medicines and prescription medicines without a script.


UK: The British Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s president, Martin Ashbury, told Chemist + Druggist that he has committed two criminal acts in the last two months.

This is because human error is inevitable in pharmacy and “because dispensing errors do happen”, he said.

Mr Ashbury was expressing frustration that decriminalisation of dispensing errors is taking so long in the UK, saying the fact that the decision to decriminalise inadvertent errors is still caught up in Parliamentary process is “absolutely ridiculous”.

“The fact that a dispensing error is a criminal act is just insane,” he told C+D.

He also said that pharmacists do not take such errors lightly: “one of the errors will be etched on my brain forever”.

In this case the patient spotted the error immediately and brought it to his attention, so no harm was done.


Chicago, Illinois: Pharmacy lobby groups are resisting attempts by Illinois legislators to introduce safety measures via regulation of pharmacists’ hours and workload.

The Chicago Tribune reports that Democrat representative Mary Flowers has sponsored legislation which would limit the number of hours pharmacists work each day, how many scripts they can fill each hour and adding meal break requirements.

Ms Flowers says that pharmacists are so overloaded that safety is a significant concern.

“We should require that the pharmacist be able to do his or her job,” Ms Flowers said. “But the pharmacist can’t do that because he does not have the time.”

Governor Bruce Rauner has also proposed that all pharmacist be required to counsel patients on first-time prescriptions and medication changes.

The proposals follow a Chicago Tribune investigation last year which found that of 255 pharmacies, 52% failed to warn consumers about dangerous drug interactions.

The Illinois Retail Merchants Association says the proposals go too far.


US: Walmart has introduced new capabilities in its app to allow customers to skip traditional service lines in its pharmacies and instead use “express lanes”.

The service, which is set to roll out this month and is expected to be in all 4,700 stores across the US by northern spring, is aimed at speeding up prescription refills as well as skipping the line.

“Starting today, we’ll be known for saving them more than just money,” says Walmart senior vice president, Walmart Health and Wellness Operations, Paul Beahm.

“By developing and combining the best of our app with a service that our customers depend on daily, we’re driving change that makes living better easier.”

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