World news wrapup: 29 September 2016

We take a look at the week in pharmacy around the world

New Zealand: Two pharmacists who unintentionally dispensed 10 times the correct dose of medicine to a young child with cerebral palsy have been ordered to apologise, the New Zealand Herald reports.

The two pharmacists and pharmacy were found in breach of the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers’ Rights by Health and Disability commissioner Meenal Duggal.

In late 2014 the boy’s mother presented to the pharmacy with a script for baclofen, but was accidentally given 10 times the strength prescribed. As a result the boy was taken to Emergency three times with increased seizures, shortness of breath and deep breathing with salivation.

It was not until the third admission that the dispensing error was identified.

The pharmacy apologised and conducted an investigation, but the Commissioner found both the processing pharmacist and checking pharmacist had failed to provide service in line with professional standards. Both were given a recommendation that they undertake assessments through the New Zealand College of Pharmacists.

The pharmacy has also been told to conduct an audit of staff compliance with dispensing drugs.


UK: NHS England has told Chemist + Druggist that it will investigate complaints about GP practices attempting to deter patients from using the pharmacy flu vaccination service.

“We would expect general practices and pharmacies to work together to ensure as many eligible people as possible take up the offer of a flu jab,” NHS England told C+D.

“We recognise that community pharmacy services offer patients additional choice and convenience.” 

The magazine previously reported that a Bedfordshire GP surgery has published a notice on its website warning that patients may be “accosted in a pharmacy and offered a flu vaccine”. The notice asked patients to instead “support your local surgery” and “decline the vaccination” offered in pharmacies.


Missouri and Mississippi, US: The supply of drugs for executions is an action of political speech which should be protected by the US’ First Amendment, according to a pharmacy whose drugs have been used in 16 executions in the state of Missouri.

Buzzfeed reports that the pharmacy, using the pseudonym “M7,” filed a motion last Friday that its sales of drugs are political speech.

It wrote in an affidavit that its “decision to provide lethal chemicals to the Department was based on M7’s political views on the death penalty, and not based on economic reasons.

“The fact that M7’s expression of political views involves a commercial transaction does not diminish M7’s First Amendment rights.”


Tulsa County, Oklahoma: A pharmacy recycling program in Oklahoma is helping communities in Africa recycle unwanted medicines.

The Tulsa Business and Legal News reports that the county’s pharmacy program has distributed US$19.5 million in recycled prescription drugs since it began in 2004 (the retail price would approach US$40 million). The program sends sealed medicine packets to nursing homes and assisted living facilities (narcotic medicines are excluded); these are donated by other facilities when the patients for whom they are prescribed have died.

Tulsa County social services director Linda J Johnston told the News that the program shot to fame following two National Public Radio broadcasts and that she is now, via email, helping officials in an African village establish a similar program there.

The recycling program has also helped spark the development of a new program, where individuals can bring in unwanted medicines for disposal.

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