World news wrapup: 28 September 2017

British pharmacist allegedly showed children Islamic State videos; CVS beefs up defenses in opioid fight; tech allegedly stole pain drugs from dying patients

Nottingham, England: Leicester pharmacist Zameer Ghumra has faced court in Nottingham on charges of disseminating a terrorist publication.

Prosecutors allege that Mr Ghumra attempted to “brainwash” two primary school-aged children by showing them Islamic State training videos and a video of a beheading, UK media including the Leicester Mercury and Mirror report.

He allegedly told the children not to make friends with children who were not Muslim, and suggested they would go to hell if they did not follow Islamic rules such as regular prayer and abstaining from alcohol.

One boy testified that Mr Ghumra used Nerf guns to train the children to fight for IS.

The boy told the Court that watching the beheading videos made him feel “disgusting”.

Prosecutors also allege that Mr Ghumra spoke to his pharmacy customers about IS, telling one that “they’re not bad people” and were only defending themselves.

Mr Ghumra has pleaded not guilty. The trial is expected to run for about a week.


Birmingham, Alabama: A pharmacy technician allegedly stole analgesic medicines intended for dying cancer patients, reports.

Johnathon William Click had been the lead technician at Birmingham’s ContinuumRx pharmacy, which distributes IV bags of morphine and hydromorphone intended for use in palliative care.

According to the plea agreement, Mr Click, who prepared a large majority of the IV bags, had replaced the stolen drugs with saline or salt water before the bags were prepared.

“This defendant was willing to subject terminal cancer patients to intolerable pain in order to feed his own addiction,” US Attorney Jay E. Townsaid. “This is one more aspect of the epidemic problem America has with abuse of prescription opioids.

“In this case, people who desperately needed the prescribed drugs for their intended purpose of controlling intense and prolonged pain instead suffered at the hands of a man who knew the misery he could cause.”


Woonsocket, Rhode Island: CVS Health has announced a new suite of initiative to help combat the US’ opioid abuse epidemic, including limiting the supply of opioids dispensed for some acute prescriptions to seven days for patients new to the therapy.

The new initiatives expand on CVS Pharmacy’s existing plan to help address the issue.

The new enhanced opioid utilisation management approach will apply to all commercial, health plan, employer and Medicaid clients as of February 1, 2018, unless the client chooses to opt out.

As well as the seven-day limit, a limit will also be placed on the daily dosage of opioids dispensed based on the strength of the opioid; and the use of immediate-release opioid formulations will be required before extended-release opioids can be dispensed.

CVS Pharmacies will also strengthen their counselling offer with a “robust” safe opioid use program and information about the risk of dependence.

“Without a doubt, addressing our nation’s opioid crisis calls for a multipronged effort involving many health care stakeholders,” says Larry J. Merlo, President and CEO, CVS Health, “from doctors, dentists and pharmaceutical companies to pharmacies and government officials.”


UK: Britain’s Pharmacists’ Defence Association has called on Parliament to ensure the Health Service Safety Investigations Body will be able to investigate patient safety incidents in community pharmacies.

The UK Government has just published a draft Health Service Safety Investigations Bill which will give the HSSIB power to investigate serious patient safety incidents.

The HSSIB will investigate qualifying incidents occurring during the provision of NHS services or occurring at premises at which those services are provided, which should include community pharmacies, PDA says.

“Our members want to provide pharmaceutical services in an environment where patient safety is top priority, but in community pharmacy they can sometimes find their professional responsibilities towards patients at odds with the employers drive for profits,” says PDA chair Mark Koziol.

“PDA believe It is essential that private organisations that provide NHS services for profit, such as those who provide community pharmacy services, are subject to same level of scrutiny on patient safety as other NHS service providers. 

“We want to see the same dramatic improvements in safety that other sectors have achieved through effective investigations bodies.”

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