World news wrapup: 9 June 2016

robber with handgun

A look at this week’s pharmacy news from around the world

Levittown, Pennsylvania: A pharmacy owner who shot and killed a man who attempted to rob the store has been praised by the local District Attorney and will not face charges, 6ABC reports.

Pennsbury Pharmacy owner Kenneth Lee “had no choice to do what he did. He was protecting himself and his business,” according to Falls Township Police Lieutenant Henry Ward.

“From what I can see, he performed a public service in taking out this fella,” District Attorney David Heckler said. “The fella asked for what he got and he got it.”

The robbery suspect, who was named by the DA’s office as Willie A Bozarth of New Jersey, entered the pharmacy with a Halloween mask covering his face and armed with a shotgun partly hidden behind an umbrella.

“He has a good camera system, so he actually saw the subject come into the store with the shotgun,” Lt. Ward said of the pharmacist. “He was prepared for the armed intruder.”

After the pharmacist had warned the intruder several times, he jumped over the counter, and the pharmacist fired. He was pronounced dead at the scene and an accomplice waiting in a car outside was detained.


Phuket, Thailand: Teens in Phuket are increasingly mixing pharmacy drugs to create a “legal high” called “gas” – and some pharmacies are doing nothing to stop them, officials say.

The Phuket Gazette reports that “gas” is created by missing the allergy treatment Procodyl, painkiller Tramadol and cough suppressant Dextromethorphan. Pharmacy regulation requires that these be sold by a licensed pharmacist. Officials are now looking at restricting sales of the drugs to hospitals only.

“We do not have an exact number of teenage consumers, but we can say that it is increasing, because the number of pharmacies charged with faking their sales records is increasing,” Somsuk Sumparnprateep, head of the consumer protection division of the Phuket Provincial Health Office (PPHO), told the Phuket Gazette.

“Some pharmacists use the demand from teenagers as a way to earn more money. They don’t care about the possibly disastrous consequences on the customers’ health. All they want is more profit,” Somsuk says.

He told the Gazette that although the PPHO has limited the amount of drugs pharmacists can sell, they will always find a way of buying more.

“Gas is very popular in the south, so pharmacies here contact other pharmacies from different regions and collect the drugs from them,” Somsuk says.


UK: The Government says it will further engage with the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee and other stakeholders before making changes to medicines legislation on ‘hub and spoke’ dispensing.

Responding to a Parliamentary Question, minister Alistair Burt said the Department of Health would like to “explore in more detail with stakeholders’ representatives before progressing any legislation”. He said the Department did not now envisage changes to the legislation commencing on October 1st.

Mr Burt said the responses to the consultation had “raised issues” around removing the bar on ‘hub and spoke’ dispensing between retail pharmacies that are not part of the same business.

PSNC responded forcibly to the consultation, pointing out the many fundamental flaws in the proposals and consultation process; crucially, that the narrative of the consultation did not match the proposals in the draft legislation. It says it is delighted that the Government has acknowledged some of the issues and hope that in these further discussions it will recognise all of the shortcomings in its proposals.

“The proposals in the ‘hub and spoke’ consultation have been ill thought out and the effect of the proposed legislation has not been made clear to pharmacy or the public,” says PSNC Chief Executive Sue Sharpe.

“We have seen a similar approach throughout the wider proposals laid out in the Government’s 17th December letter on ‘Community Pharmacy in 2016/17 and beyond’, but as yet there has been no indication from the Department of Health that it will be prepared to grapple with the real issues or acknowledge the failings of that wider consultation process.”


Ireland: Pharmacists deserve the respect, not the antagonism, of GP colleagues, Dr Ruairi Hanley has written in the Irish Medical Times.

Dr Hanley says that some colleagues “have decided to declare a ‘cyber war’ on Irish pharmacists. An unofficial online campaign has been waged, in the course of which those responsible for dispensing medications have been routinely belittled,” he writes.

“The trigger for this growing tide of negativity seems to be the suggestion that pharmacists should have an increased role in patient care. In the eyes of some members of my specialty, this is an outrageous incursion on their turf, one that cannot be countenanced under any circumstances.”

Some people have suggested that as commercial entities pharmacies “somehow belong to a lower ethical order than general practitioners,” he writes; “It has also been suggested that patient welfare (the trump card produced in almost any argument against change in our health system) would be compromised by letting pharmacists provide more services.

“Those GPs who struggle with such an idea should ask themselves a simple question. Have you ever made a prescribing error that was spotted by an eagle-eyed pharmacist? An error that might have had severe consequences had it not been identified by the person dispensing the drug?

“I know I have. Perhaps the rest of you are perfect, have never made a mistake and thus don’t feel you owe pharmacists an occasional kind word of gratitude. Or maybe you just don’t want to say ‘thank you’ publicly, as I have?

“In conclusion, I believe pharmacists deserve our respect and not our antagonism.”

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