World news wrapup: 23 February 2017


We take a look at pharmacy news from around the world

London, UK: Researchers at Imperial College London have released a study which found that antibiotics are illegally available without prescription on 45% of the 20 online pharmacy websites surveyed.

While online versions of UK high street pharmacies were compliant with prescription regulations, 80% of the online pharmacies surveyed let people choose the dose, duration of treatment and even the antibiotic itself.

Three quarters of online pharmacies in the study lacked evidence of the appropriate registration status legally required of them.

“Unnecessary antibiotic use can result in serious side effects in individuals and has a major impact on wider public health by increasing antibiotic resistance,” says Royal Pharmaceutical Society president Martin Astbury.

“We cannot support access to antibiotics through a web form until the standards for prescribing by private providers reflect the standard of face to face consultations in the NHS.

“Those involved in supplying medicines online should ensure their processes are as robust as possible.”

 

Zagreb, Croatia: Zagreb has just gained its first drive-in pharmacy, reports zagrebancija.com, thanks to support from public funding – and more are planned for other parts of the city.

Gradska Ljekarna (City Pharmacy) is the largest pharmacy chain in Zagreb, with 38 pharmacies.

Gradska Ljekarna director Nada Jambrek says the aim is to improve accessibility for senior citizens, people with disabilities and parents with children.

“This is an innovative way for us to provide pharmacy services to our fellow citizens. In late December, with the financial help of the city authorities, we have built an access driveway for vehicles.”

By May, drive-in pharmacies are planned for western, southern and northern parts of Zagreb, the city’s mayor says.

 

Ireland: Ireland’s Health Services Executive has been accused of “bullying” at least one pharmacy group after it contacted a number of pharmacy chains seeking repayment of dispensing fees.

Pharmacy groups including Cara and the Hickey chain have denied the HSE’s allegation that they incorrectly claimed multiple payments from public funds for single prescriptions presented by medical card holders, by phasing the dispensing of the medicines, the Irish Times reports.

The HSE sent legal letters to these companies and reimbursements have been withheld since last September while a review is undertaken.

But a spokesperson for Cara said the HSE was “bullying” the group and that it was completely compliant when it came to phased dispensing.

The Times reports that Cara’s dispensing fees had been withheld for four months.

“There is no contractual reason for withholding these monie,” he said. “Our shops have been audited regularly by the HSE over the past 10 years and there have been no issues.”

 

China/US: China’s National Narcotics Control Commission has announced that it will shortly begin scheduling controls across four fentanyl-class substances: carfentanil, furanyl fentanyl, valeryl fentanyl, and acryl fentanyl.

This is the result of collaboration between the US Drug Enforcement Agency and the Chinese Government.

“Fentanyl-related compounds represent a significant and deadly component of the current opioid crisis. These actions will undoubtedly save American lives and I would like to thank my Chinese counterparts for their actions on this important issue,” said Acting Administrator Chuck Rosenberg.

Over the past several months, DEA and Chinese officials had been meeting regularly to discuss mutual interests and shared responsibilities in countering the threat from fentanyl class substances. Representatives from the China National Narcotics Laboratory, the Narcotics Control Bureau, and the Ministry of Public Security met with DEA officials to exchange information on emerging substances’ scientific data, trafficking trends, and sample exchanges.

This dialogue resulted in improved methods for identifying and submitting deadly substances for government control.

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