World news wrapup: 30 March 2017

We take a look at pharmacy news from around the world

Bradford, UK: The body of a man has been found in the roof space of the Rowlands pharmacy in Queensbury, Bradford, where it may have lain for weeks.

The Sun reports that the man, a suspected burglar, may have been strangled when his clothes became caught in the space after he removed building tiles to get into the shop.

Pharmacy staff made the discovery after they noticed a leak in the roof and looked to have it repaired.

A spokesperson for West Yorkshire Police said: “Police in Bradford are investigating after a body was discovered in a roof space of a shop in High Street, Queensbury shortly after 3pm yesterday.

“An investigation is currently underway and enquiries are very much ongoing.”


New York, US: Rite Aid Corp has won an appeal against a jury verdict that it wrongfully fired a pharmacist who would not administer injections.

Christopher Stevens was terminated in 2011 for refusing to attend a vaccination training session primarily focusing on administering influenza vaccines. Mr Stevens provided a letter from his doctor stating that the pharmacist suffered from a needle phobia and that providing vaccination services might be unsafe for him and his patients.

He claimed he was fired five days after stating that this disability would stop him from attending the mandatory training, and filed a wrongful termination complaint, saying that vaccination provision was not a required job function.

He was awarded more than US$1.7 million.

Now, a three-judge federal appeals court panel in New York has unanimously overturned the ruling, the Central Penn Business Journal reports.

The judges stated that “employers may not discriminate against people with disabilities that do not prevent job performance, but when a disability renders a person unable to perform the essential functions of the job, that disability renders him or her unqualified,” and noted that Mr Stevens had been offered alternate employment, such as a pharmacy technician position, which did not involve vaccination.


New Zealand: Australia’s TGA may have just decided to maintain the ban on nicotine products in e-cigarettes, but across the Tasman such products are about to be legalised.

The NZ Government confirmed the decision on 29 March and the decision, which will require legislative change, is likely to be put in practice next year, the New Zealand Herald reports.

Nicotine products for e-cigarettes will not come in plain packaging or be subject to tobacco taxes.

According to Associate Health Minister Nicky Wagner, the change is to occur despite the fact that support for the safety of the products is still emerging.

“I suggest anyone who smokes here has a go at vaping, too,” Ms Webster said.

“Around the world we can’t get clear research about this. But what we’re thinking is they are about 95% less harmful than cigarettes.”


UK: Britain’s Department of Health knew but did not reveal that pharmacy closures resulting from cuts to sector funding will disproportionately affect disadvantaged people, Chemist + Druggist reports.

A 38-page report, not published but released internally in late 2016 and referred to during the High Court hearing on the cuts this week, showed that the closures would have a “greater detrimental effect” on patients with “protected characteristics”.

“There may be a disproportionate effect on deprived communities were any closures to occur.”

Patients who relied the most on pharmaceutical services would suffer the greatest impact from closures, the report says.

These “protected characteristics” refer to age, disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy, religion, race, sex and sexual orientation, C+D says.

Pharmacists and pharmacy workers who are of Asian origin, Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims and women are also more likely to be affected by closures, due to the demographic of pharmacy in the UK, the report says.

“There are likely to be opportunities for pharmacists to be employed elsewhere in the health and care system, particularly as a result of the pharmacy integration fund.”


UK: Pfizer has applied again to have Viagra (sildenafil) downscheduled to a Pharmacy Medicine, 10 years after its first request to do so.

In 2008, the company had applied to switch Viagra from prescription to OTC in the European Union, but withdrew the application after the European Medicines Agency highlighted some concerns.

Now, Pfizer has again applied to have sildenafil 60mg made available as a non-prescription medicine, supplied by a pharmacist.

“Pfizer is committed to patient safety, and to ensuring that non-prescription sildenafil is supplied in a way that supports patient safety and improves patient health,” a spokesperson told FiercePharma.

“Pharmacists are well placed to provide men with helpful and appropriate guidance to manage their erectile dysfunction, and should refer men to a doctor if they believe further investigation is required.”

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