World news wrapup: 25 May 2017

Trainee pharmacist stalked in England; UK funding cut case knocked back; US rural pharmacies under financial pressure; pharmacists proposed to become treatment providers in NZ

Bury St Edmunds, UK: A man who became fixated with a Boots trainee pharmacist has been ordered to get help for his mental health issues, reports the East Anglian Daily Times.

Steven Weinling told one of the trainee’s colleagues that he might “seriously hurt her” and told another staff member that he was fantasising about the trainee and wanted to have sex with her.

On one occasion Weinling followed her home from the pharmacy, Ipswich Crown Court heard. She was able to evade him by hiding in a supermarket car park. On another occasion she saw him in the grounds of her gated community, although he ran away after she spotted him.

Judge Martyn Levett described the behaviour as “stalking” and said that the woman did not know what might happen, or how the episode would end.

“She had to close her curtains and blinds for fear she was being watched,” he said.

Mr Weinling admitted harassment and was sentenced to a two-year community order with a mental health requirement. He was also given a two-year restraining order banning him from contacting his victim or from going to Boots and certain other locations in Bury St Edmunds.


UK: A High Court judge has dismissed the National Pharmacy Association and Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee’s cases against funding cuts to the sector.

Chemist + Druggist reports that Judge Justice Collins said that “Cuts of this nature will inevitably produce some hardships for individual pharmacies.

“But that cannot mean in times of… need for some retrenchment, no cuts can be made.”

However he said that the Department of Health was not immune from criticism over the cuts, which could have been better handled.

He warned that there was merit in NPA and PSNC arguments that pharmacy accessibility would be damaged due to reduced opening hours, and that the cuts would add to pressure on GPs and Emergency services.

PSNC chief executive Sue Sharpe said the organisation is disappointed in the result, while NPA’s Ian Strachan said the judgement recognises the importance of community pharmacy’s role in health care.

“We have also established an important legal principle, namely that the health secretary must now have serious regard to the duty to reduce health inequalities when making decisions about the NHS,” he said.


USA: National Community Pharmacists Association CEO B. Douglas Hoey has spoken out in support of a recent government-funded study which found that direct and indirect remuneration (DIR) fees, as well as low or delayed reimbursements, are an ongoing, significant challenge for rural pharmacies.

The study also found that up to three million rural Americans were at risk of losing the only pharmacy in their community, due to the pressures on existing pharmacies.

“The paper’s conclusions further validate our concerns about DIR fees, maximum allowable cost (MAC) pricing transparency, and exclusion from ‘preferred pharmacy’ networks,” he says.

“Health care should not be dictated by where you live. However, in many rural areas independent community pharmacies are the sole health care providers for many patients. Unfortunately, the business practices of pharmacy benefit manager (PBMs) corporations make it harder for small pharmacy business owners to be profitable. 

“Nearly 80% of the surveyed pharmacies in the RUPRI study found both DIR fees and MAC reimbursements to be a significant challenge for their business, while almost 60% struggled with being out-of-network. Thankfully, there are legislative solutions pending before Congress that could bring relief on those issues.”


New Zealand: Pharmacists may become recognised treatment providers through ACC, New Zealand’s no-fault personal injury cover body, under a recent proposal by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

Pharmacy Today reports that the submission document says, “Treatment providers are health occupational groups that can seek full or partial reimbursement from ACC for treatment they have provided to clients. MBIE is consulting on a proposal to add pharmacists to the definition of treatment provider.”

New Zealand’s Pharmacy Guild has made a submission to the Ministry supporting the proposal.

“We can see only positive benefits in making pharmacists treatment providers,” says Guild chief executive Andrew Gaudin in the submission. “As noted in the consultation document, pharmacists are taking on new roles and responsibilities, with community pharmacies offering many new services in recent years.

“Pharmacists are keen to move from their traditional role of dispensing medicines and offer services that not only support patients but relieve the pressure on other parts of the health care system.”

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