World news wrapup: 7 April 2016

AJP looks at this week’s pharmacy news from around the world

West Virginia, US: Recent data for the state of West Virginia show a 40% decrease in doctor shopping over the last two years, which may be at least partly due to actions by the West Virginia Board of Pharmacy Controlled Substance Monitoring Program.

CSMP administrator Michael L Goff told the Pharmacy Times that when looking through the state’s prescription database in 2014, he found an alarming number of doctor shoppers.

Where a patient who has received 10 or more prescriptions for controlled substances and gets them filled by five different dispensers within a six month period, CSMP sends letters to the prescribers and pharmacies involved to detail the case. It also alerts law enforcement or licensing boards in cases of drug overdose death with suspicious prescription activity.

In 2014, the same year West Virginia was identified as the US state with the highest number of prescription drug overdoses, CSMP sent 1150 letters to prescribers and pharmacists.

“We believe that these letters have increased awareness of the practitioners about the issue,” Goff told the Pharmacy Times.


Ghana: Pharmacy retail and wholesale outlets in Ghana are facing being closed by the Pharmacy Council by the end of April due to Council rules around full and part time work.

The Pharmacy Owners Association of Ghana is asking the Council to give owners three years to employ full-time pharmacists, following a directive whereby each pharmacy must renew its operating permit yearly, with an endorsement from a full-time Superintendent Pharmacist for that outlet.

Pharmacists who are fully employed in one outlet may not work in another pharmacy shop part-time.

The pharmacy owners are asking for three years to implement the directive, saying that a current shortage of pharmacists – many of whom have gone to work for government or private clinics – is impeding them in the short term.


London, UK: Regardless of whether a national flu immunisation service is greenlighted this year, London pharmacists will still deliver the vaccines this winter, Chemist + Druggist reports.

Pharmacy London chief executive Rekha Shah told C+D on Monday that the citywide program will allow pharmacists to vaccinate under-18s and health workers, and has been recommissioned by NHS England’s regional team.

C+D reports that the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee is still working to secure a second national flu service as quickly as it can, but the London program will go ahead regardless.

Shah also said that the scheme’s early announcement will help pharmacies forestall the “friction” that occurred between pharmacies and GPs last flu season.

Berkshire, UK: A whistleblowing pharmacist has been told she is too honest to work for the NHS, UK media reports.

Maha Yassaie, who was chief pharmacist at the Berkshire Primary Care Trust, was told she was too honest to work for the organisation after she made a series of allegations about patient safety and colleague behaviour – which included a colleague taking money from pharmaceutical companies to prescribe certain drugs, and a GP who used controlled drugs to attempt suicide – and was sacked.

During the course of an independent enquiry Yassaie was targeted for disciplinary action. She reportedly had believed the enquiry would investigate her concerns, but was branded as a bully and ultimately fired. She was later awarded a £375,000 settlement by the NHS.

Kelvin Cheatle, who was appointed to lead the enquiry, reportedly told Yassaie that “If I had your values I would find it very difficult to work in the NHS” in a meeting.

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