World News Wrapup: 31 August 2018

This week, a violent customer who stabbed two pharmacists appears in court, New Zealand sees a new pharmacy group for its Pacific population and a promise of no post-Brexit meds shortages  

London, UK: The British government has warned pharmacists not to stockpile drugs in the lead-up to Brexit in March 2019 as it is working with manufacturers to secure six weeks’ worth of medicine stocks, according to the Pharmaceutical Journal.

Matt Hancock, the secretary of state for health and social care, said last week (23 August) that the government was taking steps to ensure an additional six-weeks’ supply of medicines will be available in the UK, following a medicines scheme being agreed with manufacturers, to protect supply.

He also warned, in a letter sent to community pharmacies, GPs and NHS organisations,that any over-ordering of medicines would be “investigated and followed up with the relevant chief or responsible pharmacist directly”.

“Hospitals, GPs and community pharmacies throughout the UK do not need to take any steps to stockpile additional medicines, beyond their business as usual stock levels,” Mr Hancock said in the letter.

“There is also no need for clinicians to write longer NHS prescriptions. Local stockpiling is not necessary and any incidences involving the over-ordering of medicines will be investigated and followed up with the relevant chief or responsible pharmacist directly.”

Ash Soni, president of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, welcomed the promise of an extra six-weeks’ supply of medicines.

“The fact that the government thinks it will be able to manage things is really good. I’m glad that we have got some clarification,” he said.


Belfast, Northern Ireland: A man who stabbed two Belfast pharmacists while trying to steal tramadol has been handed a six-year prison sentence.

Patrick Campbell attacked Peter McDonagh – owner of James McDonagh Pharmacy on Falls Road, west Belfast – and locum pharmacist Peter Wright on April 6, 2017, after being denied tramadol, Belfast Crown Court heard recently, pharmacy magazine Chemist + Druggist reports.

The judge sentenced Mr Campbell, 28, to six years in prison and six years on a supervised licence after pleading guilty to attempted robbery of the pharmacy and two counts of “unlawfully and maliciously wound[ing] with intent to do grievous bodily harm”.

Neither pharmacist sustained life-threatening injuries, and Mr McDonagh returned to work the following day, he told C+D at the time.

Commenting on the attack last year, a spokesperson for the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland said that there is a “recognised drug problem” in Belfast – and Northern Ireland more widely – and prescription drugs “seem to be part of the problem”.


Auckland, NZ: New Zealand’s first Pacific Pharmacists’ Association has recently launched.

The association has grown out of a Facebook group formed several years ago by Kasey Brown, who is the association’s first president, reports Radio New Zealand.

Ms Brown said the association aimed to be an interface, helping Pacific people learn more about how best to access, and use, medicines.

Knowing there was someone who could understand them was important for Pasifika when accessing pharmacies, she said.

“I think that when Pacific people go into a pharmacy and they see someone that isn’t Pacific, it’s harder to engage because they’re not quite sure where either team are coming from, really,” she said.

“As in, Pacific Islanders don’t understand the health system here, but that non-Pacific people don’t understand how the culture works.”

Ms Brown said Pasifika could expect to soon see the Association starting to make itself visible in communities and the workforce.

“So with key people working in the Pacific Responsiveness Strategy, hopefully we’ll be able to communicate these ideas and the strategy in general to the communities, that they can understand what we’re doing, and how they can help themselves.”

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