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Posts Tagged "bad"

7Aug

Daphne Bramham: College roots out the bad, white-collar dealers, one pharmacist at a time

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When you think about shady drug dealers, it’s usually in the context of the Downtown Eastside or the Surrey Strip.

But in the last three months alone, the B.C. College of Pharmacists has rooted out some white-collar guys who were running illegal pharmacies, faking prescriptions, doling out methadone improperly, and plumping up their dispensing numbers with made-up prescriptions for over-the-counter drugs and vitamins.

While their crimes don’t have the same kind of mean-streets vibe as the illicit dealers, it doesn’t mean that the guys in white coats didn’t do some seriously bad things.

Let’s start with William Byron Sam, who is still under investigation by the college for “knowingly operating an unlicensed pharmacy.”

A complaint outcome report posted on the college’s website says “serious public risk indicators were present within the pharmacy.“ It doesn’t spell out what those serious risks are and, in an emailed response to my question about where Sam was getting the drugs from, the college refused to say.

In March, the college cancelled the licence for Garlane Pharmacy #2, which Sam was operating at 104-3380 Maquinna Dr. in Vancouver’s Champlain Heights.

(It still has two five-star ratings on Yelp! So, if it’s a legitimate drugstore you’re after, you might want to check the college’s listings.)

Sam’s problems began in 2015 with a practice review, which was followed up by a request for more information. In 2017, the college told him his conduct would be the subject of a hearing, admonishing him for failing to respond to the college after a practice review in 2015 and to a request for more information in 2016.

In May, Salma Sadrudin Damji, another Vancouver pharmacist, was found to have used a prescription pad from a medical clinic and falsified 62 prescriptions for Schedule 1 drugs, which include heroin, LSD, ecstasy and methaqualone (aka Quaalude) using three patient names and two physician names. In May, the college fined her $1,000, imposed a 90-day suspension and forbid her from owning or managing a pharmacy for three years or acting as a preceptor or mentor for pharmacy students.

Beyond that, the college says it can’t comment.

North Vancouver’s Davood Nekoi Panah provided monetary incentives to a patient, dispensed Schedule 1 drugs without an authorized prescription in unlabelled and mislabelled containers — all without taking reasonable steps to confirm the identify of the patients before giving them the drugs.

He was fined $10,000. Starting Sept. 4, he can’t work for two months and can’t be a pharmacy manager or preceptor for two years. Questions about him were also met with a no-further-comment response from the college.

Amandeep Khun-Khun has every appearance of being a good guy. From 2010 until 2012, he was on the college’s community practice advisory committee making recommendations related to community pharmacy practices. He was a preceptor for UBC pharmacy students and was quoted in UBC’s 2013 brochure aimed at recruiting other mentors.

But in June, Khun-Khun was fined $30,000 and suspended from practice for 540 days. He can only return to full pharmacist status if he passes the college’s jurisprudence exam and completes an ethics course.

The mailing address for his company, Khun-Khun Drugs, is the Shoppers Drug Mart on the tony South Granville Rise.

Over three years, the Vancouver pharmacist processed more than 15,000 false prescriptions for vitamins and over-the-counter drugs — things like aspirin and ibuprofen — on the PharmaNet records of seven individuals. But those seven people didn’t know anything about it.

Khun-Khun admitted he “directed pharmacy assistants to process transactions weekly on PharmaNet in order to artificially inflate the pharmacy’s prescription count.”

He did it even though he had previously undertaken to comply with all ethical requirements after earlier complaints.

Part of the reason Khun-Khun didn’t get caught earlier is because neither of the two full-time pharmacists working for him did what they were supposed to. The inquiry committee wrote that both of them “turned a blind eye” to what they knew or should have known was wrong.

They knew or should have known that what was happening was wrong since the transactions were done without patients’ consent and were an improper use and access of personal information.

William Wanyang Lu and Jason Wong were both working for Khun-Khun full-time. Both now have letters of reprimand on their permanent registration file and were required to pass both an ethics course and the college’s law exam or face 30-day suspensions.

Yet Wong hasn’t deleted a comment on his LinkedIn profile that while he worked at Shoppers Drug Mart he was “coached with great mentors at this pharmacy including Amandeep Khun-Khun.”

Among the others disciplined recently is Sing Man Tam. He was fined $10,000 and had a reprimand letter put on his permanent record for his “inadequate diligence and oversight” over two years related mainly to dispensing methadone to addicts to quell their cravings and minimize the effects of opioids.

Tam processed prescriptions without authorization. He also didn’t witness its ingestion, which is legally required (and the reason that pharmacists get $17 for dispensing it rather than the usual $10 for other medications).

He billed for methadone that was marked in the logs as having been “missed” and Tam delivered it without authorization by the doctor who wrote the prescription.

For the past several years, the college has received close to 800 complaints, but many of those don’t require any disciplinary action or even a referral to an inquiry committee. Its statistics cover the 12 months from March 1 to the end of February.

And while the most recent fines and suspensions may not seem to add up to much, the college is not always the final arbiter. The courts are.

In March, Richmond pharmacist Jin Tong (Tom) Li was sentenced to a year of house arrest after pleading guilty to one count of obtaining more than $5,000 under a false pretence.

The charge links back to the college’s disciplinary action in 2016 after it found that Li had submitted more than 2,400 fraudulent claims to PharmaCare between 2013 and 2014 that cost the B.C. government $616,000.

Coincidentally, Li’s pharmacy licence was reinstated as a pharmacist in October 2018, having been suspended for 540 days. He is still banned from being a manager, director or pharmacy owner or preceptor until 2023.

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4Jun

Coquitlam mayor renews call for ride hailing after report of bad taxi ride | CBC News

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Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart is once again calling for an end to the taxi monopoly in the Tri-Cities area and urging the province to quickly allow ride hailing services like Lyft and Uber after a local woman recounted a negative cab ride that left her feeling like a captive.

The taxi ride happened more than a week ago, but it wasn’t until Stewart wrote a post on social media titled “Held hostage by a taxi” that it started to get attention.

Gayle Hunter was taking a routine taxi ride from her home to Birchland Elementary School, where she works. Hunter, who doesn’t drive and lives with a disability that limits her mobility, said she always pays $7 for the trip, after the tip.

But, in her account, the driver failed to start the meter, and as she approached the school, she told the driver that technically, if he didn’t start the meter, she didn’t need to pay.

Hunter claims she was fully intending to pay the usual rate, but her comment sent the driver into a shouting rage.

Then, she said he turned away from her destination, despite her protest, and began to drive her in the wrong direction.

“It was essentially an altercation that resulted in her being driven against her will for some period of time, and it really angered me,” said Stewart.

Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart said a local woman’s account of a bad taxi ride was just the latest in a long list of complaints he’s heard from people about the area’s taxis. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

“It frustrates me to no end, the length of time and the number of times we’ve had to speak with the Transportation Ministry, the Passenger Transportation Board and with this company about the behaviour of the drivers,” he said.

‘It was scary’

“Well it was, first of all, shocking, and then it was scary,” said Hunter. “It was scary. It was — and then it just made me really angry.”

Hunter said she phoned the company, Bel-Air Taxi, as the driver continued to refuse to take her to the school. She said she put the manager on speaker phone to have him tell the driver to take her to her intended destination — she says the driver continued shouting throughout.

Once Hunter got to Birchland elementary, she claims the troubling episode still didn’t end. She said the driver hurt her by aggressively ripping the cash out of her hand.

“When I got into the school, I was shaking, like I was a little — I went straight to the principal’s office,” she said. “Even today, I don’t feel safe getting into a cab.”

Gayle Hunter says she’s scared to take taxis after a bad ride in late May. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

Hunter contacted Coquitlam RCMP to file a report, but doesn’t expect any criminal charges to arise from the incident. She also sent the company a written complaint, but said that she hasn’t heard anything back.

CBC News phoned and emailed Bel-Air Taxi for a comment, but nobody from the company replied to the request.

Manager Shawn Bowden told CTV News that he spoke to Hunter and apologized for the incident. He said the meter should have been turned on, but he added that, based on GPS records, the taxi didn’t deviate from the intended route to the school.

For both Stewart and Hunter, the incident is a reminder that, as a matter of safety and convenience, passengers need more choice when it comes to ride services in the Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Port Moody.


Do you have more to add to this story? Email [email protected]

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6Feb

Believe it or snot: Nasal mucous transplant study targets bad sinuses

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Dr. Amin Javer, with study subject Maggie Bernet, shows how photodynamic therapy — a blue-light treatment that sterilizes the nasal cavity as it kills bacterial and viruses — works as part of the broader nasal mucous transplant study at St. Paul’s Hospital.


Dr. Amin Javer, with study subject Maggie Bernet, shows how photodynamic therapy — a blue-light treatment that sterilizes the nasal cavity as it kills bacterial and viruses — works as part of the broader nasal mucous transplant study at St. Paul’s Hospital.


NICK PROCAYLO / PNG

There’s healthy snot, then there’s the other kind. And now those with good nasal mucous will be donating their slimy stuff to relatives suffering from chronically inflamed sinuses in a novel transplantation study at St. Paul’s Hospital.

Study leader Dr. Amin Javer said in an interview the inspiration for the chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS) study is the success of fecal transplants for inflammatory bowel diseases and colitis caused by Clostridium difficile (C-diff). A member of his research team — epidemiologist Amee Manges — has been involved in several human microbiome studies related to the higher risk of hospitalized patients getting potentially deadly C-diff infections.

Just like what happens in bowel disorders, good microorganisms in the sinus (microbiome) are disrupted and outnumbered by slimy groups of damaging bacterial and/or viral micro-organisms. Antibiotic therapy is not only often useless but often more damaging since antibiotics cut a wide swath, taking down good bacteria along with the bad.

The chronic sinus condition is common; it is said to affect up to 12 per cent of the North American population.

Indeed, the hospital clinic gets 6,000 outpatient visits a year, many of whom are patients with the chronic sinus condition.

Ethics approval for the St. Paul’s Hospital Sino Nasal Microbiota Transplant (SNMT) study, as it is called, has been granted by the hospital and the University of B.C. But Javer is waiting for final approval from Health Canada, which he expects to get next month.

The study aims to answer whether transplants are both beneficial and safe in patients with the chronic condition. The working hypothesis is that inflammation, mucous discharge and recurring infections will indeed be improved by renewing and replenishing the sinus microbiome with healthy snot from donors.

What would recovery look like? No more constant coughing, no more blocked nasal passages, no more dripping from their noses, no more headaches, sinus infections, fatigue and poor sleep, among many other symptoms.

A patient getting photodynamic therapy with a blue light that sterilizes sinuses by killing bacterial and viral germs. (Photo: Handout)


A patient getting photodynamic therapy with a blue light that sterilizes sinuses by killing bacterial and viral germs. (Photo: Handout)

Handout

Potential donors are now being screened and patients enrolled in the non-transplant arm of the study. Those patients will receive only photodynamic therapy — a blue-light treatment that sterilizes the nasal cavity as it kills all bacteria and viruses. While two-thirds of patients who get such treatment reportedly improve, the effect is short term. Just like antibiotics, it doesn’t distinguish between beneficial germs and bad ones, so a small number of patients actually get worse.

A second group in the study will be randomized to phototherapy plus the transplant while a third will get only the transplant. About 200 participants will be enrolled in the study.

Former nurse Pat Taylor is one of the participants in the trial. She’s been randomized to the branch of patients receiving only blue-light therapy. The Victoria resident said most people have no idea how life-altering and disabling chronic sinusitis is.

“It is financially, physically and emotionally debilitating with a poor quality of life. Many health professionals know little or nothing about CRS, so many people go undiagnosed,” she said, adding that patients often bounce around between specialists like respirologists and allergists, often to no avail.

Javer echoes her sentiments. “Chronic sinusitis has been shown by research to totally ruin the quality of life of patients. It’s a disease that creates so much emotional distress for people. I’ve got patients who tell me they’d rather be dead than endure all these symptoms. One patient from Prince George recently said to me that if I couldn’t fix him, he’d rather I killed him.”

Javer said he’s convinced a “sinus probiotic” is needed to repopulate unhealthy sinus cavities with healthy microbes. Without a beneficial probiotic, harmful pathogens find a way to return and multiply in the nasal cavity, ensuring the recurrence of the sinus disorder.

‘We think the transplants using healthy donor microbiome could drastically improve the long-term health of those with diseased sinuses,” he said, adding that a recently started study in Sweden is also exploring the use of sinus microbiome transplants. In that study, phototherapy is not being used and no data have yet been reported.

Javer said research has not yet pointed to the cause of the sinus disorder but it starts when something alters the environment in the nasal/sinus cavity.

“It can be a virus or a cold that starts this cascade of symptoms, and what’s worse is patients get antibiotics from their family doctors and the vast majority of them don’t need them,” said Javer. “Prescribing oral antibiotics when you aren’t sure they are needed can be the worst thing you can do because they can alter the microbiome.”

The $300,000 study is funded through private donations to a charitable foundation Javer established at St. Paul’s Hospital. The funds are earmarked for sinus disorders.

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14Nov

Truck damage at UBC Hospital looks bad, but safety not at risk: Official

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Truck damage at UBC Hospital is an eyesore, but did not affect the structural safety of the drive-through area.


Arlen Redekop / PNG

Four months after a truck smashed into a structure beside the urgent care centre at UBC Hospital, the damage has still not been repaired.

But a spokeswoman said that while it looks bad, there’s nothing unsafe about it.

The damage occurred in July when a delivery truck tried to pass through the covered drop-off area and struck the overhang right outside the urgent care clinic. It has a clearance of 9.6 feet and the driver apparently underestimated the height of his truck.

“No one was injured in the incident. Patient care was unaffected,” said Carrie Stefanson, a spokeswoman for Vancouver Coastal Health. “There was extensive … damage to the overhang and it was closed (temporarily) to vehicle and pedestrian traffic.”

Ambulances and other vehicles temporarily used a different entrance. Once engineers assessed the damage and declared the area structurally sound, operations returned to normal.

But repairs have been delayed because of “competing interests on other projects” — namely construction at the adjacent Centre for Brain Health.

Stefanson said it’s expected that the repairs will be done early in 2019.

“This is being covered through insurance,” Stefanson said.

The Urgent Care Centre at UBC Hospital is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. It is staffed by emergency doctors and nurses who treat minor medical emergencies that don’t require admission to hospital, such as broken bones, fevers, minor burns and eye problems.

Vancouver Coastal Health leases the building from UBC.

Postmedia reported last week that Vancouver General Hospital had to reschedule dozens of cases after a construction mishap caused water to leak into operating rooms while surgeries were underway. Operating rooms are now back to normal.

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