World news wrapup: 24 November 2016

We take a look at pharmacy news from around the world

Poughkeepsie , NY: Sara Kissinger has only been practising as a pharmacist for a matter of months, but she has already saved a life, the Poughkeepsie Journal reports.

Kissinger, who graduated in May and has worked at the Poughkeepsie Rite Aid since May, administered two doses of naloxone to a woman who had overdosed in the pharmacy’s parking lot.

A man had rushed into the pharmacy saying the woman called him just before she overdosed, and when he arrived he found her unconscious in her car.

Kissinger, who had never administered naloxone before, had some concerns about the Rite Aid’s supply, because it contained intranasal naloxone – and its manufacturer had just issued a recall affecting up to a third of its kits due to an atomiser defect.

However, Kissinger still had some naloxone pens in her car as a precaution left over from her time interning at a pharmacy which participated in a needle exchange program.

“I was trained about two years ago, so I’m thinking, ‘I hope I remember how to do this’,” she told reporter Nina Schutzman.

“I went over and found the woman lying back in the car. Her face was blue and she looked unconscious. We found that she was breathing and she still had a heartbeat, but she was completely just unconscious.”

She administered one dose of naloxone, but the woman remained unconscious, and so she administered the second, after which she sat up and was soon taken to a local hospital.

“I’m just happy that the day turned out the way it did and I hope she gets to spend Thanksgiving with her family. I hope this is a wakeup call for her,” Kissinger told the Journal.


US: The US Federal Trade Commission has announced a new enforcement policy statement on marketing claims for homeopathic drugs, which will now be held to the same standard as other products making similar claims.

“Companies must have competent and reliable scientific evidence for health-related claims, including claims that a product can treat specific conditions,” the FTC says.

However, the FTC also says it recognises marketing claims can also include “additional explanatory information” to prevent claims from being misleading: so labelling changes which state homeopathy doesn’t work may be acceptable.

The FTC “recognizes that an OTC homeopathic drug claim that is not substantiated by competent and reliable scientific evidence might not be deceptive if the advertisement or label where it appears effectively communicates that: 1) there is no scientific evidence that the product works; and 2) the product’s claims are based only on theories of homeopathy from the 1700s that are not accepted by most modern medical experts,” it says.


India: India’s policy of demonetising Rs500 and Rs1,000 notes has led to havoc in pharmacies, various media report, after private clinics, hospitals and pharmacies were directed to keep accepting them until November 24.

A series of the large notes were demonetised on November 8, with the intention of replacing them with a new series in a bid to reduce counterfeiting and corruption.

But pharmacies and hospitals have been unwilling to accept the old notes, with The Hindu reporting that most pharmacies in Delhi-NCR refused to take them, and the Indian Express reporting one death in Kolkata after a private pharmacy refused to accept a demonetised Rs500 note from the family of the man when they went to buy his medicines.

Some pharmacies are willing to take the notes, but only if customers are willing to buy medicine worth Rs400.

“We don’t have enough change to pay back the customers,” said pharmacist Subhash Chatterjee of Gauri Shankar Pharmacy, explaining that the policy had been introduced with little support or planning.

“We feel bad refusing patients but what option do we have? We cannot even buy medicines from distributors as they are not accepting old notes,” he said.


UK: The UK has introduced a new law which requires pharmacy professionals to provide evidence of their proficiency with the English language in order to practise safely and effectively.

The UK’s pharmacy regulator, the General Pharmaceutical Council, will now have the ability to check on the English skills of pharmacy professionals who qualified in the European Economic Area. Previously, if a pharmacist was a national of the EEA or Switzerland, the GPhC could not check their language skills before they joined the register.

The GPhC will also have new powers to investigate a registrant’s fitness to practise in cases where their knowledge of English may pose a serious risk to patient safety. 

“These important changes to legislation will improve public protection by enabling us to introduce fair and proportionate language controls that apply to all registrants and applicants for registration,” says Duncan Rudkin, chief executive of the GPhC.

“The changes to English language requirements will also provide further assurance to pharmacy service users that pharmacists and pharmacy technicians should be able to communicate with them.”

“We would emphasise however that employers are still responsible for checking the language skills of any pharmacy professionals they plan to employ.”

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