World pharmacy news roundup: 3 March 2016

NPA members at Support Your Pharmacies event

Our weekly wrapup of pharmacy news from around the world

South London, UK: Thousands of people have signed a petition against cuts to pharmacy services at a series of public events across England, says the UK’s National Pharmacy Association.

The NPA teamed up with the British Pharmaceutical Students’ Association and other national pharmacy bodies to run the events at university campuses and London’s Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre.

The shopping centre event alone collected nearly 1000 signatures, the NPA says, and so far more than 20,000 signatures have already been collected in total in the week since the campaign launched.

Stephen Fishwick, head of communications at the National Pharmacy Association, told the Pharmaceutical Journal that to date there have been around 250,000 expressions of support for the ‘Support your local pharmacy campaign’.

Pharmacy in England is reeling from a 6% funding cut to the sector. Pharmacy minister Alistair Burt reportedly estimates that between 1000 and 3000 pharmacies will close because of the funding cut.

“The public was incredulous about the proposed cuts,” Fishwick told the Pharmaceutical Journal.

“The most common response was that it was just crazy that the government said it didn’t plan to cut front line NHS services but what was more front line than community pharmacy?”

Image: National Pharmacy Association


UK: A little over a third of Chemist + Druggist readers feel a combined minor ailments and emergency supply service is the most realistic of the services set out in the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee’s vision for the profession.

Last month PSNC released a three-phase action plan, of which phase one concerns developing existing methods of working. Part of this is a minor ailments service, inhaler checks and the default use of electronic repeat dispensing for medicines being used on a long-term basis.

A Chemist + Druggist reader poll shows that 38.15% of readers believe the minor ailments and emergency supply service would be the most viable service in PSNC’s plan.

This was closely followed by repeat electronic dispensing (37.04%). Next was the concept of more pharmacists attaining independent prescriber status, at 15.93%.


Telangana, India: A year after the Pharmacy Practice Regulations 2015 were introduced to regulate “good pharmacy practices” across India, the regulations have not been adopted in Telangana, in the state of Hyderabad, says the Times of India – to the point where most working pharmacists aren’t qualified.

“Alarmingly, most of those working as ‘pharmacists’ with the 27,000 medical stores in the state don’t even have the required qualification to hold the post,” the paper reports.

“While on paper, Telangana has 55,000 qualified pharmacists, only a few thousand are employed by pharmacies.”

The Times cites the reason as simple cost-cutting.

Telangana pharmaceutical society president Dr A Sanjay Reddy says that over 60% of people staffing pharmacy stores are “unqualified helpers”.

“How can one expect these unqualified people to dispense correct medicines to the patients?” he says.


Flint, Michigan, US: US pharmacy chains are helping residents of Flint, Michigan, weather the water crisis in the troubled US city, Pharmacy Times reports.

The Flint water crisis began in 2014 when the city changed its water source from treated Detroit Water and Sewerage Department water to the polluted Flint River, exposing residents to high amounts of lead.

Following a switch back to Detroit water, for many residents lead levels remain well above the federal action level of 15 parts per billion.

Pharmacists in Flint have been helping remind people that simply boiling water is not enough to remove the lead contamination, Pharmacy Times reports; and some pharmacy companies have taken a proactive stance by supplying bottled water.

“Walgreens spokesman James W. Graham told Pharmacy Times that the company donated a shipment of 18 pallets of bottled water (with 1 pallet containing 1728 bottles of water) to a nonprofit called Rainbow/PUSH so that they could distribute the water to local organizations assisting Flint,” reports Pharmacy Times.

“Additionally, we have been supporting students in the area by donating bottles of water to them, as well as to the Flint Food Bank,” Graham told the publication.

SpartanNash has also been contributing to the cause.


Idaho, US: State senators in Idaho are considering using pharmacists as part of the solution to the state’s low childhood vaccination rate, which is one of the lowest in the United States.

Drug Topics reports that less than 60% of Idaho’s two-year-olds have up-to-date vaccinations. This is due to lack of access, especially in rural areas, as well as a large number of parents who oppose vaccination, the journal reports.

Idaho senators recently approved a proposal that would allow pharmacists to help solve the access problem by vaccinating children as young as six, with parental consent: previously, the age limit was 12.

The Bill was proposed by the Idaho State Pharmacy Association.

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