World news wrapup: 8 September 2016

We take a look at pharmacy news from around the world

San Francisco, California: An innovative project created by a pharmacist is set to see San Francisco city libraries become centres to help residents manage stress.

Since they were introduced in 2011, more than 600 San Francisco city employees have taken part in Stress Relief and Resiliency Medicine Training workshops held at local libraries.

Now, the city’s library system is set to provide funds for pharmacist Eleaner Vogt and her team to train librarians to present the workshops to consumers.

The project began as a collaboration between the University of California San Francisco School of Pharmacy and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency after the latter got in touch with the School of Pharmacy’s Professor Vogt, concerned about diabetes, stress and anger management among local bus drivers.

“A compelling body of research estimates that approximately 70% of the common presenting complaints in outpatient primary care are either directly caused or indirectly complicated by psychosocial stressors—which often go unrecognised,” Prof Vogt says.

She says that pharmacists are in an ideal position to make a difference to community health in projects such as the workshops.

“Pharmacists are on the front lines, and patients see pharmacists more than any health care provider,” she told the American Pharmacists’ Association.

“With our coaching, counselling, and caring, we are the ‘medicine’ too. Just as we immunise for flu, we can immunise for stress.”


Massachusetts, US: CVS pharmacists in Massachusetts will need to consult a prescription database before they can dispense prescription opioids.

The agreement, the first of its kind, comes after an investigation by Attorney General Maura Healey (pictured) into pharmacies in the chain improperly dispensing the painkillers to at-risk patients.

“Through this groundbreaking settlement, these pharmacists will be better equipped to responsibly dispense opioids and will be required to use the Prescription Monitoring Program, which is a vital resource in preventing the misuse of opioids,” AG Healey said in a press conference.

AG Healey’s Medicaid Fraud Division conducted an investigation into CVS after a referral from the state’s Medicaid program relating to the state’s Controlled Substance Management Program.

A subsequent investigation was conducted by AG Healey’s Consumer Protection Division related to the PMP, where it was discovered that CVS failed to provide sufficient internet connectivity to access the online program.

Many of the more than 350 CVS pharmacies in Massachusetts are MassHealth providers and therefore must comply with all applicable state and federal statutes and regulations governing its participation in the program.

CVS will now require its entire Massachusetts pharmacy staff to access the PMP website and review the prescription holder’s prescription history before dispensing certain prescribed drugs.


UK: Delays to planned cuts to the pharmacy sector are a testament to the determined campaigning of the National Pharmacy Association, campaign partners and members, says NPA.

New Pharmacy Minister David Mowat MP told the Royal Pharmaceutical Conference this week that cuts to pharmacy funding in England and associated efficiency measures will not take place from October as originally planned: instead he plans to take the time to make the “correct decision”.

“Mr Mowat’s statement recognised that the two million strong petition presented to Downing Street has been a factor in the Government’s decision to suspend its original plans,” the NPA says.

“Yet this matter is far from over and our campaign continues. In the next weeks and months we must press home our advantage, so that the Minister’s announcement leads to fresh thinking in government and a change in policy direction in relation to pharmacy. 

“Otherwise, this will be merely pain deferred.”


Lagos, Nigeria: Government officials in Lagos have shut down 37 illegal pharmacies and other medicines outlets in a bid to halt the proliferation of illegal pharmaceutical stores in the area, reports PM News Nigeria.

According to Special Adviser to the Governor on Primary Health Dr Olufemi Onanuga, operatives from several agencies visited 49 pharmacies in the area.

Thirty-seven were then shut down after being found to have committed several offences including “engaging quacks,” and overstepping legal boundaries: several licensed patent medicine shops had dispensed ethical drugs illegally.

“Licensed patent medicine vendors are authorised to sell only drug products in their original packs in approved pack size as produced by the manufacturing companies,” says Dr Onanuga.

“The law prohibits dispensing and wholesaling of drugs by patent medicine vendors.”

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