World news wrapup: 25 August 2016

robber with handgun

We wrap up the week in pharmacy news

Ohio, US: Police in Hamilton have shot and killed a suspect who was holding a knife to a Walgreens pharmacist’s throat, WLWT5 reports.

A customer and another Walgreens employee both called 911 for help at 2.30am after the suspect jumped over the pharmacy’s counter and held the pharmacist, a 47-year-old woman, hostage.

“I have a customer that just informed us that somebody jumped our pharmacy counter, and I cannot get it up on the cameras, and when I went back, the pharmacist said she was OK, but I can’t see her,” the Walgreens employee told 911.

The customer told dispatchers that he had seen the suspect jump over the counter and had warned staff, but one was still in the dispensary. “I don’t know if he’s got a gun, but he’s back there with her,” he said.

Hamilton Police Chief Craig Bucheit told reporter Karin Johnson that when police arrived within a minute, they found the suspect, 34-year-old Kelley Brandon Forte from Cincinnati, holding a knife to the pharmacist’s throat.

He did not comply with police direction and was fatally shot.

The pharmacist, while shaken, was not physically harmed.


UK: One Voice Pharmacy, which has organised a locums’ boycott of shifts at supermarket giant Tesco, may be set to team up with the UK’s pharmacists’ union, Pharmacists’ Defence Association.

Chemist + Druggist reports that PDA has emailed One Voice “to say they’d like to come and meet with us,” according to One Voice co-founder Tanzeel Younas.

Younas told C+D that the union “thinks the work we do is brilliant”.

One Voice is organising a boycott of Tesco from September 10-24, in protest at the supermarket’s slashing of locum pay.


Maryland, US: While it was widely reported at the time that a significant amount of medication was stolen from Baltimore pharmacies during last year’s riots, the amount was very much underestimated, the Baltimore Sun reports.

Around 80% more doses of drugs, including methadone, oxycodone and fentanyl, were taken than initially reported, writes reporter Meredith Cohn.

On the day of the funeral of Freddie Gray, who died in police custody from a spinal cord injury, 27 pharmacies and two methadone clinics were ransacked – around a third of the city’s pharmacies.

While the pharmacies said the value of the stolen drugs was around US$500,000, Drug Enforcement Agencies say the street value was probably significantly more. Nearly 315,000 doses were taken, the DEA says.

“Deaths in Maryland related to fentanyl jumped 83% to 340 last year, according to the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Overdose deaths from drugs and alcohol rose 21% to 1,259 overall,” Cohn writes.

“Overdose deaths from prescription drugs rose 6 percent to 351.”


Ireland: The number of complaints received about pharmacists or pharmacies decreased by nearly a half last year, the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland’s annual report shows.

Dispensing errors were the most common category of complaint, followed by behaviour or professionalism issues.

The pharmacy regulator’s report showed a total of 27 formal complaints received, compared to 51 complaints in 2014.

As well as receiving official complaints, the Annual Report also outlines that 90 expressions of concern were raised with the regulator, a 19% decrease on 2014. 

The regulator commissioned a national public survey in Spring 2016, which demonstrated that 96% of respondents were satisfied with services provided by pharmacies and had never experienced service or treatment that would give rise to unhappiness or complaint.

PSI also launched a charter, which aims to provide a broader understanding of the role of community pharmacists and tells the public what they can expect when they visit a pharmacy.

As the pharmacy regulator, the PSI wants Irish people to be aware of standards their pharmacist should meet, while at the same time helping empower patients to actively look after their own health with the ongoing support of their pharmacist.

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