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AusPharm Editorial

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Could what happened in Ireland happen here? :: Mark Dunn : 1/9/2009 : Some 'listers will have been following recent events in Irish pharmacy - it seems the Irish Government has won its battle of wits (and $$$) with Irish community pharmacies.

The dispute between the Irish government and pharmacy owners began early in 2009 when the Irish Health Service Executive (HSE) announced plans to drastically cut the amount it paid to pharmacies for dispensing prescriptions under the Irish community drugs schemes (the equivalent of our PBS). The legislation was signed into law on July 1 and came into effect on August 1.   More... premium




Are pharmacists vision impaired? :: Wendy Morton : 7/11/2008 : Luke Bereznicki in yesterday's AusPharm feature article "Pharmacy Needs to Develop a Vision"  lends yet another well credentialled voice to the argument for Pharmacy to offer new government funded health services and programs not directly linked to community pharmacies.

And the fact Luke is our 2008 PSA Young Pharmacist of the Year makes it a little difficult for his opinion to be ignored as just another uninformed whinger I should think. Ask any young pharmacy graduate in Australia (within say five years of registration) what sort of pharmacy they want to be practising and I'm quite confident their vision for the future would mirror Luke's. But where can they currently utilise their skills to the fullest? Certainly not in the existing structure with its emphasis on supply.    More... premium




It's All About The Bags - Pharmacy Women's Congress 08 :: Wendy Morton : 1/9/2008 : If your weekend just gone included tiaras, chocolate body paint, copious doses of Dr FeelGood, fine dining, shoe shopping, day spas, aromatherapy, champagne, dancing till you dropped, singing disco hits of the seventies through to the noughties at the top of your lungs, lotsa laughs with a bevy of gal pals, sessions to expand your professional and business skills bases and personal network, then waking up Sunday morning to beat wild rhythms with a bunch of hunky guys on West African djembe drums, chances are we spent the weekend together in Melbourne at the Pharmacy Women's Congress 08. 

As a consequence, you'll be starting your week feeling as motivated, inspired and empowered as we all are. If your weekend didn't include even ONE of these elements... Gee, you really need to ask yourself WHY - 'Cos you shortchanged yourself big time!    More... premium




Complementary medicines earn pharmacy no compliments :: Mark Dunn : 7/8/2008 : 'Listers who saw Kos Sclavos' recent address to the National Press Club will have heard the Sydney Morning Herald's Mark Metherell ask him a question about the 'walls of unproven complementary medicines' consumers need to walk past in some pharmacies in order to get to the pharmacist. He was asking whether these detracted from pharmacists' image as amongst the most trusted professionals.

Now that the 'secret discount' bogeyman has been despatched as part of the PBS Reforms, and the issue of OTC codeine misuse looks likely to be addressed as part of the 'Pharmacist Only Medicines Notifiable' initiative, the issue flagged by Metherell is perhaps Australian pharmacy's most significant vulnerability, one that stops other health professionals and many consumers from taking pharmacists seriously as legitimate health professionals.    More... premium




Plus Good, Double Plus Good... :: Wendy Morton : 18/7/2008 : Stop Press!! Watch out folks, there's a new weapon joining the tireless fight against fractures in the osteoporotic bones of Australia, and it's PBS listed as of August 1st. It's.... drumroll... Fosamax Plus!!!

What's that? We already HAVE Fosamax Plus in the arsenal? No, no, no, you misunderstand - this is new, improved Fosamax Plus - sort of a Fosamax Plus-Plus, or Fosamax Extra-Plus, brimming with all the Fosamaxy goodness you've come to expect in a weekly dose, but with twice as much pseudo-sunshiney Plusness! Why, you ask?    More... premium




Dating tips for Reformed pharmacists :: Wendy Morton : 16/7/2008 : Many 'Listers will have received a fax from Novartis this week regarding changes to their credit policy for expired stock. (Click here to read the fax.)

Given the letter was dated March 12, the content related to a policy change effected February 12 2008 and the fax is being sent in July, there was a degree of mirth amongst some of AusPharm's colleagues as to how the office junior in charge of faxing might have fallen QUITE so far behind.    More... premium




Pharmacists and medical certificates :: Wendy Morton : 8/2/2008 : Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert cartoons maintains the best sickness excuse is “You don’t want to know the details”. But increasingly, Australian employers DO want the details. Or at least certification that the details equate to a reasonable excuse, before paying their employees sick-leave. Especially for workdays abutting weekends or Public Holidays.

Our recent AusPharm poll suggests however over 70% of pharmacists are somewhat reluctant to embrace their endorsement to provide such certification under the WorkChoices amendments to the Workplace Relations Act 1996.

Why? Are we scared the devil is in the detail?

Note to readers: we are having 'technical difficulties at present that preclude you from reading this editorial other than in today's (e)news - click here to continue.   More... premium




What can pharmacy expect from a Labor government? :: Mark Dunn : 26/11/2007 : Pharmacy's future is now, to large degree, in the hands of Labor's incoming Health Minister. While Prime Minister elect Kevin Rudd is yet to announce who this will be, presumably Nicola Roxon, Shadow Minister for Health prior to the election, is front runner to get the job. How can pharmacy expect to be treated under a Labor government and what issues might be on pharmacy's wish list for the new Minister?

Pharmacists working in community pharmacy can read Labor's pre-election letter to Guild members here. It is very like the (ex) Prime Minister's letter (here). Like the Coalition before them, the incoming Labor government supports the community pharmacy status quo and appears, at face value, to be pharmacy friendly. Presumably the rumour published in Crikey in February that Labour was wavering on pharmacies in supermarkets was just that and there is no threat.    More... premium




Yes, Minister :: Mark Dunn : 14/11/2007 : 'Listers will have read the report in yesterday's (e)news about Health Minister Tony Abbott's decision to exercise his ministerial discretion and grant a new PBS approval number for a NSW central coast pharmacist in Cresthaven Ave, Bateau Bay. This after approval had been declined by the Australian Community Pharmacy Authority (ACPA) because it did not meet the criteria detailed in the Pharmacy Location Rules for new approvals. Presumably this was because it is less than 1.5kms from an existing approved pharmacy.



Over the last 24 hours AusPharm has had a closer look at the Pharmacy Location Rules and at the Guidelines for Ministerial Discretion and, on the face of it, it is difficulty to see on what basis Minister Abbott approved this pharmacy.   More... premium




PDL publishes complementary medicine 'Risk management strategy' :: Mark Dunn : 1/11/2007 : Complementary medicines (CAMs) in general and those marketed for weight loss in particular have been in the news again in the last week. Readers of AusPharm have been alerted to these news stories in the Sydney Morning Herald and elsewhere (eg here, here and here).

These news items have been critical of the Therapeutic Good Administration for allowing such products on to the market without requiring their sponsors to produce evidence that they actually do what they claim to do (ie help their users lose weight). One of these articles attacked Woolworths Ltd for stocking these products, with the claim made that Woolworths Ltd was breaking its own Corporate Social Responsibility Charter by knowingly selling ineffective and possibly harmful products. AusPharm understands that our friends at Today Tonight might have more to say about this soon.   More... premium




On 'owing' scripts :: Mark Dunn : 10/10/2007 : There was a discussion on AusPharmList last week about the supply of schedule 4 medications as 'owing'. This was prompted by Andre Kung's post asking people what they charged customers when they do 'owings'. In posts that followed there were admissions by those posting of what appeared to be illegal acts.

I wonder whether pharmacists are aware of the risks they take when they supply 'owings' the 'wrong' way?   More... premium




Wholesale pharmaceutical sector in turmoil? :: Mark Dunn : 25/9/2007 : 'Recalcitrant pharmacists add to drag on Sigma trading' read the unfortunate headline in last Friday's Sydney Morning Herald (SMH). This followed the previous day's release by SIGMA of its half year results for the period ending July 31 2007.

Sigma shares dropped as low as $1.25 after CEO Elmo de Alwis announced a 39 per cent decline in first half profit on the prior corresponding period. The stock has more than halved in value this year, with the Sigma market value dropping to $1.3 billion.    More... premium




Pharmacy Student of the year event a winner :: Wendy Morton : 30/8/2007 : "They say we're young and we don't know. We won't find out until we grow..." Weatherman Phil Connors, played by Bill Murray in the 1993 film "Groundhog Day", woke every morning to his radio alarm clock crooning the strains of this 1960's hit by Sonny & Cher.

Every year AusPharm has had the privilege of watching the PSA Alphapharm Pharmacy Student of the Year National Counselling Event, we are reminded a little of "Groundhog Day" and marvel that something so intrinsically repetitive is never boring. For the uninitiated, six State finalists plus a finalist selected by the National Australian Pharmacy Students' Association (NAPSA) each take their turn to counsel two "patients" in a mock pharmacy setting, with the delightful John Bell as their pharmacy assistant with the mostest and a "pharmacy" absolutely chockers full of interested "customers" aka PAC delegates craning their eyes and ears to eavesdrop on the advice these talented 4th Year Pharmacy students have to offer.   More... premium




How close to home does lightning need to strike to serve as a wake up call? :: Wendy Morton : 22/8/2007 : Last November AusPharm published a news item about a NZ pharmacy technician facing charges after a bottle containing a combination of prednisolone and risperidone mixtures was accidentally dispensed to a toddler, instead of the prednisolone prescribed to treat her cough. The child required hospitalisation shortly after the first dose, but seemingly made a full recovery.

Did you read it? Did it cause you to reflect on your own dispensary layout and practices? Were you inspired to make any changes? Or did you decide the scenario didn't really apply to you because here in Australia we rarely dispense less than whole bottle quantities?   More... premium




When is a recall not a recall? :: Wendy Morton : 20/7/2007 : Prexige® 200mg. Now you see it, now you don't. Voila!!

And for our next trick... after saving our company thousands of dollars via a single fax soft recall for a product our own research has shown could pose a cardiovascular risk without significant additional pain reduction benefit at current recommended dosage, we shall now ensure a seamless transition to the new 100mg strength despite a 6-week gap between the stock recall for the 200mg strength and the listing of the 100mg strength to the PBS, utilising the time and skills of none other than that most cheap and cheerful of Australia's health practitioners - the pharmacist! Yay! Wild Applause....

There is so much that rankles with the way Novartis has handled their withdrawal of 200mg lumiracoxib.   More... premium




What fate awaits the Potions Master from Echuca? :: Wendy Morton : 10/7/2007 : The cinema release for "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" is scheduled for this Wednesday, July 11.

But Wizards of the Pharmacy World - and more than a few Muggles thanks to a front page report in Melbourne's Daily Prophet (aka The Herald Sun) - are eagerly waiting to see exactly what kind of fangs the Victorian Ministry of Magic (or Pharmacy Board of Victoria) is equipped with in their disciplining of self appointed Potions Master, pharmacist Rob Symons of Echuca, who was last Wednesday found guilty of professional misconduct at a formal hearing he declined to attend. Will the PBV be ruthless or toothless?   More... premium




ONLINE, OFFLINE, OFFSIDE! RED CARD! :: Wendy Morton : 5/7/2007 : Phweet! Bet you think it’s high time the referee blew the whistle and awarded a red card to someone for the debacle that was Monday's PBS Online (PBSOL) service to pharmacy. Trouble is knowing exactly which player to award it to!

Or maybe every player simply deserves a yellow card, from Medicare and Centrelink, to the ISPs, your Guild reps, pharmacy owners, the PBSOL trial sites, right down to the most junior dispenser who isn't such a one for i-dotting and t-crossing, and every Joe & Josie Public who ever scammed a concession they weren't entitled to?   More... premium




'Misleading' Xantr*x ads still in circulation :: Mark Dunn : 18/6/2007 : In an editorial published on April 26 AusPharm reported on the outcome of a complaint lodged with the Therapeutic Goods Advertsing Code Council (TGACC) by Dr Ken Harvey against Cat Media P/L, the sponsors of Xantr*x.

While 'listers may not be familiar with Cat Media's name they will certainly be familiar with their products which include Xantr*x (R), Diuret (R), Hairgro (R), Horny Goat Weed (R) and Fat Blaster (R). These Cat Media products have featured in the deliberations of the TGACC over the last 6 months or so.

With respect to Dr Harvey's Xantr*x complaint, Cat Media were 'requested' to withdraw 'misleading' advertisements for Xantr*x. Two months on, have they done this?    More... premium




Withdrawal of Xantr*x ad ordered :: Mark Dunn : 26/4/2007 : Last week the Complaints Resolution Panel of The Therapeutic Goods Advertsing Code Council handed down its decision on a complaint lodged by Dr Ken Harvey in November 2006 about certain print and website advertisments for Xantr*x.

Cat Media P/L, the sponsors of Xantr*x, were also ordered to "to withdraw any representations that Xantrax causes weight loss, suppresses the appetite, delays gastric emptying, or supports healthy metabolism".

In essence, the Panel found that some of the claims made in the advertisment(s) were not supported by the evidence held by Cat Media.    More... premium




Is the Coversyl 'no substitution' stamp 'legal'? :: Mark Dunn : 23/4/2007 : Last week a 'lister sent along this image and comment.



"I received a script yesterday with a unique stamp on it. Apart from the fact that the prescriber isn't aware that there isn't a generic form of perindopril/indapamide (Coversyl Plus), I was curious as to whether this stamp was 'legally binding' as such."

Six months ago this would have been an easy question to answer. The PBS 'Yellow Book' (remember that?) has it that: "Prescribers [not using these prescription forms] should endorse the prescription if brand substitution is not permitted. Where a stamp is used for this purpose, the prescriber will be required to initial the stamped statement."

So, yes, it is legal. Or is it?   More... premium






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