herald

Sunday 11 December 2016

Staff at pharmacy that refused tragic Emma's EpiPen were 'abused and threatened'

Pharmacist David Murphy
Pharmacist David Murphy

The pharmacy which refused to dispense an EpiPen to the Dublin schoolgirl who died after an allergic reaction to peanuts sustained "a wave of abuse" including death threats and aggressive phone calls and emails, a fitness to practise inquiry heard.

Staff at the Hamilton Long Pharmacy on O'Connell Street said that on one occasion, a pharmacist was told "he would be slaughtered" following the tragic death of 14-year-old Emma Sloan in December 2013.

The teen died on the street after she ate satay sauce at a Chinese restaurant in the city centre.

The evidence was heard at the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland (PSI) inquiry investigating an allegation of poor professional performance against pharmacist David Murphy.

Backlash

It is alleged Mr Murphy failed to respond adequately when he declined to give Emma Sloan's mother Caroline an EpiPen because she did not have a prescription.

Staff from the pharmacy recounted the public backlash following the school girl's death.

Rachel Horan, who was working at the Hamilton Long Pharmacy at the time, agreed there had been "untoward incidents" which had affected all the staff.

"We got some not very nice phone calls," she said, and referenced one occasion where "another pharmacist answered the phone and he was told he was going to be slaughtered".

Staff also received advice from gardai who instructed them to vary their route home each night.

Claire Murphy, superintendent pharmacist at Hamilton Long, said that staff were labelled "scumbags" and told that they should be ashamed of themselves.

"People were coming in off the street and shouting abuse," she said.

"When someone would come in and ask for a private consultation staff were thinking 'are they going to ask me for emergency contraception or are they going to give me abuse?'"

She added: "Any time anything about anaphylaxis or nut allergy came up, it would have created a new wave of abuse."

Evidence was also heard from expert witness Prof Stephen Byrne who has compiled two reports as part of the inquiry.

Prof Byrne said in his view Mr Murphy's conduct amounted to poor professional performance because he had not properly interviewed Ms Sloan to determine who was suffering the allergic reaction and where this person was.

A request was made by Mr Murphy's legal representative to have Prof Byrne's entire evidence deemed inadmissible. But this was rejected.

Earlier Caroline Sloan said she recalled informing staff in the pharmacy the EpiPen was needed for her daughter who was suffering an allergic reaction.

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