World news wrapup: 29 June 2017

Glasgow, Scotland.

Delivery mixups investigated in the UK; Glasgow to get three ‘street pharmacists’; Pharma Bro trial off to slow start

Glasgow, Scotland: Three clinical pharmacists are set to help the homeless of Glasgow in a new initiative which has been given £60,000 in funding by the Scottish Government.

The Scotsman reports that those who sleep rough in Glasgow and are registered with a GP have levels of multi-morbidity comparable to the average 84-year-old in the rest of society – even though the average age of homeless Glaswegians is 43.

The project is the brainchild of Dr Richard Lowrie, from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, one of the three pharmacists who will venture into the Glasgow city centre with Simon Community Scotland’s street team.

“We are going to have clinical pharmacists who can prescribe reaching people where they live in the streets,” Dr Lowrie told the Scotsman’s Kevan Christie.

“Currently there is no GP service that does outreach in this way and there isn’t any nurse service that manages multiple conditions.”

In many cases, rough sleepers have no medical records and any communication from doctors is lost due to the lack of a postal address. They are 40 times more likely than others to not be registered with a GP.


UK: The Community Pharmacy Safety Group has begun a review of standard operating procedures after an investigation highlighted several cases of poor practice in medicines delivery services, reports the Pharmaceutical Journal.

The group is run by the Company Chemists’ Association, which represents eight chains including Boots, Asda and Superdrug.

The investigation showed examples of medicines being delivered through letterboxes, eaten by pets, mixed up by delivery drivers, stolen after being left on front doorsteps, or delivered to wrong addresses.

In one case, a driver delivered medicines to a patient’s son, who did not pass them onto his mother as intended but took them all himself, resulting in his death.

In another, benzodiazepines were delivered to a wrong address – to the home of a person who had a “serious” drug problem.

“Shadowing our delivery drivers was a thoroughly enlightening experience,” said José Moss, lead author of a paper published by the group.

The paper makes 10 recommendations to improve procedures.


Brooklyn, New York: The trial of “pharma bro” Martin Shkreli has gotten off to a slow start, with a second day of jury selection ending without any jurors having been selected, CNBC reports.

Mr Shkreli has pleaded not guilty to charges of securities fraud and conspiracy to commit securities and wire fraud.

Prosecutors allege that he used stock from his former pharma company Retrophin to repay investors who had been defrauded at his hedge funds.

A significant number of jurors were excluded due to already having established a negative opinion of Mr Shkreli, who was widely criticised after raising the price of Daraprim from $13.50 a pill to $750, and also as a result of his social media activity. None of the charges faced by Mr Skreli pertain to these events.

One potential juror, a pharmacist with three decades of experience, was rejected after he said he felt he could be impartial, but would use his knowledge of the pharmaceutical industry to evaluate evidence and share his expertise with other jurors.


UK: The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee has been given permission to appeal its Judicial Review Case against the UK’s Secretary of State.

In October 2016, the Secretary of State imposed controversial cuts to pharmacy funding, as well as other changes, in the UK; PSNC sought judicial review of the decision but was knocked back in May 2017.

Mr Justice Collins found against PSNC but was critical of the Department of Health’s consultation process, stating that it was unfair – just not unfair enough to be unlawful. The Department had failed to disclose its use of an analysis which it said showed community pharmacies have an operating margin of 15%.

In giving permission for PSNC to appeal, Mr Justice Collins said: “While naturally I am not persuaded that I failed in any of the respects alleged … I recognise the real effect of the cuts on pharmacies and the apparent reliance on the 15% and the non-disclosure.”

The appeal is not likely to be heard for several months.

Sue Sharpe, PSNC’s CEO, said: “We hope that we will be able to have constructive discussions with DH and NHS England. Ideally we would like those to mean we did not need to pursue an appeal, but PSNC will do what it feels is right to protect pharmacies and the patients they care for.”

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