World news wrapup: 30 June 2016

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AJP takes a look at the world’s week in pharmacy

The US Supreme Court has turned away an appeal by a family-owned pharmacy which objected to supplying emergency contraception on religious grounds, Reuters reports.

The Stormans family, which owns Ralph’s Thriftway grocery store and pharmacy in Olympia, said their Christian beliefs influenced their objection to supplying the medicine, which they associate with abortion.

But the Court was divided over the case. While it left in place a 2015 ruling by the US Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld a Washington state regulation that requires pharmacies to deliver all prescribed medicines – including contraceptives – in a timely fashion, conservative judges at the Supreme Court believed it should have agreed to hear the Stormans family’s appeal.

One of the three conservative judges said that, “the dilemma this creates for the Stormans family and others like them is plain: Violate your sincerely held religious beliefs or get out of the pharmacy business.”

But the American Civil Liberties Union welcomed the decision.

“When a woman walks into a pharmacy, she should not fear being turned away because of the religious beliefs of the owner or the person behind the counter,” said Louise Melling, its deputy legal director.


UK: Tesco’s is set to drop its locum rates by between £1 and £3.50 from July 20 – a decision which has prompted an email campaign against the move.

Locum Siddiqur Rahman posted an email template protesting the cut in a locums’ social media group based in Greater London, Essex and Kent, Chemist + Druggist reports; however the template is now being circulated around locum groups UK-wide.

“From experience, a lot of locum shifts offered by Tesco have been on an urgent emergency basis, mainly on a social media platform such as Facebook and Whatsapp,” reads part of the email template, which is addressed to Tesco’s pharmacy operations manager.

“To offer these shifts for £18/hr starting rate seems abysmal, especially when we are expected to be flu vaccination accredited.”


Calgary, Canada: Opioid addiction rates have reached crisis levels in Canada, pharmacists at the Canadian Pharmacists Association conference in Calgary have heard.

And according to drug safety researcher at the University of Toronto David Juurlink, doctors are “conditioned by nature” to want to treat pain. “We live in a society where pills are very often a part of how we treat things,” he told CBC News Calgary.

“We were told that these drugs could work well, they were safe, they didn’t trigger addiction and they would go on working. We happily took that message, we deployed these drugs like mad and we now in hindsight realise how big a mistake that was.”


Canterbury, New Zealand: Pharmacies around Canterbury have gone under the microscope to make sure their patients are getting the best possible care.

The initiative, which was aimed at applying “lean” principles to streamline everyday processes, was aimed at helping pharmacy staff members find more time to spend with patients and to work together with local general practice teams in the care of patients.

Shields Pharmacy in Papanui was one of the teams to explore how they could do everyday things differently and give their patients the best possible care.

“I was nervous before it started about how it would work and was worried that we would be judged on what we were doing,” Shields pharmacist Steve Thompson says.

“It is easy to get stuck in your ways and it was refreshing to have a new eye look at things,” he says.

“We do have more time now. We have more time to spend with patients if required and we can offer them more services as they are developed.

“The dispensing process is more efficient so hopefully waiting times are shorter and our ordering should reduce errors.”


Baltimore, US: A man who looted a CVS pharmacy and set toilet paper placed on propane tanks on fire, aiming to keep police from entering the store, has been sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Donta Betts pleaded guilty in a federal courtroom to charges including arson, assault and looting, during the riots which erupted in Baltimore in April 2015 after the death of Freddie King.

Betts was caught only because his image was caught on surveillance video, U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland, Rod J. Rosenstein, said.

“Among the affected businesses, the CVS Pharmacy located at 2509 Pennsylvania Avenue in Baltimore was looted and burned. According to his plea agreement, Betts participated in the looting at the CVS. Betts is captured on surveillance video entering the store through its main front entrance and removing merchandise from the store,” the Department said in a statement.

“By 5:44pm, riot participants had placed an assemblage of metal propane cylinders and charcoal briquettes near the main entrance to CVS, between West North Avenue and a line of police officers that had formed across the 2500 block of Pennsylvania Avenue. 

“In an effort to deter the line of police officers from advancing to stop the looting of the CVS, Betts set fire to a roll of toilet paper and placed it on top of the propane cylinders and charcoal briquettes. 

“Betts then squirted lighter fluid onto the burning roll of toilet paper atop the incendiary materials.

“Betts then fled, and at approximately 5:58pm, a large flame exploded from the improvised incendiary device, resulting in flying debris of large metal fragments from the propane cylinders and blast effects felt by nearby bystanders.”

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1 Comment

  1. Ron

    So now the US Government dictates to pharmacists what they will supply. So long to “the land of the free” and to professional ethical judgment.

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