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The feature articles below are "opinion" pieces and reflect the views of the individual authors. They are not the views of P/L, its directors or editorial group unless explicitly stated to be so.


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Guidelines are important :: PSA National President Grant Kardachi : 12/3/2013 : Ensuring pharmacists have the best possible advice and guidelines to maximise the effectiveness of their skills and knowledge is an important responsibility for the profession’s member organisations.  And it is one in which PSA has a pivotal role.

This has been evident over the past couple of months during which PSA has demonstrated its ongoing commitment to pharmacists and our role in improving the health outcomes of Australians through the release of two very important bodies of work.   More... premium

I'll sing your praises! :: Michael Macdonald : 11/3/2013 : AusPharm's recent call for 'listers to send along their accounts of situations where pharmacists have used their diverse skill set to produce a positive patient outcome provoked several submissions.

Today's vignette is from NSW community pharmacist Michael Macdonald.

Monday morning, I was checking through claimable scripts when a somewhat regular walks in. A somewhat regular is one that isn’t on many chronic medications but seems to get antibiotics every other month.

She had just been to the GP next door and had the most spectacular red eye, with swelling and weeping, that I’ve ever seen, I was surprised she could see through it.   More... premium

Training the trainers :: Justin Lee : 5/3/2013 : I have been reading with interest some of the discussion following the announcement early in 2013 that the Pharmacy Board of Australia is conducting a consultation on requirements for preceptor training.

Officially, the Board defines an ‘approved preceptor’ as a ‘pharmacist responsible for the supervision of a person undertaking supervised practice either during undergraduate clinical training placements or during a period of supervised practice as part of the process leading to general registration’. The Oxford and Webster dictionaries both offer a more simple definition; a preceptor is a teacher or instructor.   More... premium

The role of a RMMR pharmacist :: Penny Kraemer : 5/3/2013 : Much has been written about medication reviews in the last month with controveries raging about both HMR funding and, although more subdued, the NSW Branch of the Pharmacy Guild's offer, contrary to RMMR program rules, to provide a RMMR report writing service.

In today's AusPharm feature, 2010 (joint) AACP Consultant Pharmacist of the Year, Penny Kraemer, giives her thoughts on the roles and responsibilites of accredited pharmacists providing RMMR services.

It is known that up to 30% of all hospital admissions for patients >75 years of age are medication related. Up to 75% of these are potentially avoidable. The most common drug related presentations to hospital in the elderly are falls, postural hypotension, heart failure and delirium. The drugs most commonly implicated are cardiovascular drugs and psychotropic drugs.   More... premium

Pharmacist to the rescue: pruning the roses :: Rod Edwards : 4/3/2013 : AusPharm's recent call for 'listers to send along their accounts of situations where pharmacists have used their diverse skill set to produce a positive patient outcome, has elicited several submissions.

We're publishing the first of these today - it's from South Australian pharmacist Rod Edwards.

Veronica’s Nou's recent article rang a bell with me about an incident that occurred many years ago in the pharmacy I co owned.

A middle aged gentleman was referred to me by one of my staff regarding an eye irritation that had been troubling him for “a while”.
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Quality Use of Medicines Managers - time to present a united front :: 2012 PSA Pharmacist of the Year: Deirdre Criddle : 28/2/2013 : Pharmacists - nice, but not really necessary?

In the last week or so AusPharm has published opinion pieces on 'collaboration' from Guild CEO David Quilty  and from PSA National President Grant Kardachi .

In today's AusPharm feature, 2012 PSA Pharmacist of the Year, Deirdre Criddle, gives her take on recent events in pharmacy and on what the profession needs to do to stake a claim in the Australian health landscape.

"Think long and hard at what has played out in the past month. Pharmacists fighting over "whose medication management solution" should be funded and which pharmacists are "best placed" to deliver high quality care.

"I fear we will be redundant if we don’t start looking realistically at the massive problem of medication misadventure because we are too busy thinking about ourselves."
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The Drugs In Sport Fiasco Is Not Over By A Long Shot :: Stephen G. Greenwood : 25/2/2013 : The recent media frenzy unleashed by the Government’s Justice Minister Jason Clare and Sports Minister, Kate Lundy brought to mind the old adage that there are three types of intelligence, human, animal and military. Perhaps after the release of the Australian Crime Commission’s recent accusations  in their expurgated report, we need to add to that list a fourth type of intelligence – ‘political’.

Organised crime, match fixing, performance enhancing drug use, parallels with Lance Armstrong, sports betting criminality, use of anabolic steroids, peptides, hormones, illicit drugs, the doping of entire teams and widespread cheating were just some of the charges that Jason Clare and Kate Lundy levelled at Australian sporting bodies on what they called Australia’s blackest day in sport. This was the result of the Crime Commission’s 12 month long report into sports doping conducted in conjunction with the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).   More... premium

More focus on collaboration :: PSA National President Grant Kardachi : 25/2/2013 : I have written about collaboration previously but it continues to have a strong focus in many forums as an integral way forward in the healthcare sector. Therefore a strong emphasis in the healthcare sector is the need for professions within the sector to embrace collaboration.

A guiding principle of this need for a collaborative approach has been that it will underpin the ongoing sustainability of the health system as it faces new challenges with a rapidly growing ageing population and increased PBS costs.   More... premium

Working together must be our common objective :: Executive Director of the Pharmacy Guild: David Quilty : 19/2/2013 : David Quilty is the Executive Director of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, a role he assumed on 1 December 2012. David has kindly agreed to contribute a monthly opinion piece to AusPharm.


It is nearly three months since I started in the role of Executive Director of the Pharmacy Guild.

It is fair to say I have been on a steep learning curve as I have sought to understand the key issues and build relationships with the many stakeholders with an interest in community pharmacy.   More... premium

An account of the HMR moratorium controversy :: Mark Dunn : 18/2/2013 : The HMR moratorium controversy has been one of the most talked about subjects on AusPharmList in years with well over 100 posts on the subject since news broke that, in light of a program cost blowout, the Pharmacy Guild had called for an immediate HMR 'moratorium'.

Unfortunately, there has been some misinformation spread and, at times, some ill informed comments have been made.

Here's AusPharm's attempt at summarising the facts.   More... premium

Home Medicines Reviews and Psychiatry :: Chris Alderman : 11/2/2013 :

With the recent controversy surrounding the calls for a moratorium on the conduct of  (HMRs), many pharmacists feel justifiably disturbed at the prospect that long after the genuine breakthrough of achieving the ability to be remunerated for the provision of cognitive services, the Australian pharmacy industry needed to confront the possibility that these processes may be compromised or reconfigured.

It has always been the case that HMRs can only be undertaken by a pharmacist after a referral from a General Practitioner (GP). The functionality of these arrangements can be debated, particularly in the light of revelations of dubious business models that reward high throughput of poorly prepared reviews and relationships whereby funds are passed on to the GP as an additional incentive for generating a referral (this ‘compensation’ in addition to money already directly payable to the GP for their role in the process).   More... premium

Labor Gains As Coalition Goes Missing In Action Over Summer :: Stephen G. Greenwood : 6/2/2013 : The first polls of the New Year had the Coalition holding a slender 51% to 49% lead in party preferred terms worrying Coalition strategists everywhere. Even pharmacists started to think that the Government which has attacked their incomes over the last 18 months and used them as a financial milch cow might have some chance of sneaking back into office.

Some argue that Tony Abbott’s invisibility and that of his Shadow Ministry over the holiday season allowed the Prime Minister to steal a march on the Opposition leader and that may be so. Certainly Julia Gillard was prominent in being Prime Ministerial over the summer natural disasters and was on television most nights as a Prime Minister should be, showing national concern for those devastated by the Tasmanian, Victorian, New South Wales and Queensland bushfires and the floods in Queensland and New South Wales.   More... premium

Death, taxes and PBS co-payment increases :: John Bell : 3/2/2013 : As 'listers who have been with us for a while will know, each month our friends at Self Care provide us with a copy of John Bell's feature article that runs each month in the Self Care InPHARMation magazine.

The February issue will feature an article on the mechanics of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

Death and taxes aside, anticipating the future is an impossible task. Nevertheless, history will often give us a clue as to what is to come.... 

And so, we’ve come to expect that each January there will be an increase in the cost of Government subsidised Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme (PBS) prescriptions.   More... premium

Random acts of rudeness :: Irwin Lowe : 31/1/2013 : Here is the last of our 'blast from the past' features, traditionally republished by AusPharm during January each year. As a special treat for our basic level members, we make these available to them too.

Today's offer is a cracker from Irwin the Evil Chemist - originally published in 2007.

"One of the issues when dealing with the general public on a day-to-day basis is the completely random nature of what might happen during individual interactions. Vocations requiring contact with the general public are generally associated with the highest stress rates.

So it is unsurprising that confrontations difficult and draining on the psyche have made me consider quieter career choices with fewer social interactions."

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The 'List, the Man, and the Eye' :: Veronica Nou : 24/1/2013 : So well received was last week's republished article from Veronica Nou, how could we possibly not provide another one for you this week?

This article, originally published in June 2011, highlights the positive side of work as a pharmacist....


It was a quiet day in the suburbs. Outside the front door Holdens roamed the streets, ensuring an even distribution of VB bottles and Winfield Blue packets on the asphalt. Inside in a rare moment of peace, I was sorting scripts, digging my heels into the rubber mat to stop my seat from escaping. Yes, that's me, the risk-taker, unafraid of the OHS dangers inherent in an ambulatory stool.

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What it does to you :: Veronica Nou : 17/1/2013 : As mentioned last week, each January AusPharm republishes selected feature articles from the archives. As a special treat for our basic level members we make these republished articles available to all AusPharm members for a brief time.

In an article originally published on AusPharm in December 2008, Veronica Nou gave us a peek into her slightly kooky world and reflected on pharmacists' ability to multi-task under pressure.


"I do think our profession has a tendency to shape us. Not that we’re all doppelgangers. Far from it. Even within the profession we have somehow categorised ourselves into groups – us, them, retailers, discounters, professionals, community, hospital, consultant, owners, employees, whatever. What has however become common to us all is the amazing ability to handle ridiculous amounts of work in near miraculous time frames. To stay cool under pressure, and to roll with the punches. Crisis? No worries. We are the problem solvers, and not one at a time, either. We can process information at almost the same speed as a Pentium Intel QuadCore®."   More... premium

Who you gonna call? :: Wendy Morton : 12/1/2013 : Each mentioned last week, each January AusPharm republishes selected feature articles from the archives. As a special treat for our basic level members we make these republished articles available to all AusPharm members for a brief time.

'Listers may recall an excellent clinical service offered in days gone by by NPS Medicinewise called the Therapeutic Advice and Information Service. Staffed by Drug Information pharmacists it was the 'go to' place when you had a tickly clinical question you were unable to answer. Sadly, it was defunded and disappeared from the pharmacy landscape in June 2010.

If there's something strange... In your dispensary... Who you gonna call??   More... premium

Ownership – You Don’t Know What You’ve Got Till It's Gone :: Stephen G. Greenwood : 3/1/2013 :

Each January, AusPharm republishes selected feature articles from the archives. As a special treat for our basic level members we make these republished articles available to all AusPharm members for a brief time.

This week's article is former Guild Executive Director Stephen Greenwood's response to Terry Barnes' Jan 2011 Financial Review op ed, attacking pharmacist only ownership of pharmacies in Australia, originally published in February 2011.

"Much has been said in recent days by a bloke called Terry Barnes who has managed to gain 15 minutes of fame by saying in the Financial Review how much he regrets his so called “co-authoring” of the 2000 National Competition Policy Review of Pharmacy Regulation. Barnes now says he thinks ownership of pharmacies by pharmacists and orderly location rules are just bad policy and that its time non pharmacy businesses dusted off old plans to “help bring down retail pharmacy’s empire."   More... premium

More information needed on proposed scheduling changes :: PSA National President Grant Kardachi : 20/12/2012 : In this, my final column for 2012, I wanted to highlight an issue of significant and ongoing concern to PSA and, I believe, to all pharmacy organisations.  I refer to the scheduling process which applies in Australia, in particular, the rescheduling of human medicines.

Some readers may not be familiar with what is involved when an application for rescheduling is submitted to the TGA and how the Advisory Committee on Medicines Scheduling (ACMS) provides advice to the Delegate who makes decisions.  A proposal for rescheduling can of course be for up-scheduling (say from S4 to S8) or down-scheduling (say from S2 to unscheduled).  Either way, the scheduling of medicines is integral to pharmacy practice and I know that many pharmacists do closely monitor the pre- and post-meeting notices of ACMS meetings.   More... premium

Dear Santa :: Justin Lee : 18/12/2012 : I’m sorry it’s been so long since I’ve written. It’s just that, well, growing up makes it less socially acceptable to believe that you really exist. Even you have to admit that the evidence isn’t in your favour. I don’t recall ever reading credible reports of aerial reindeer sightings or discovering signs of your operations on the North Pole. But perhaps, that’s the magic of Christmas.

You must be wondering why I have suddenly decided to write to you after all these years. After all, my grounding in evidence-based medicine should have developed in me a healthy level of scepticism.   More... premium

About this page 

This features page will be updated with new opinion pieces regularly. Unlike the hard copy publications that publish all their content once each week/fortnight/month we will publish on a rolling basis.

Got something to say? Fancy yourself as a features writer? 

At we are always on the lookout for people with an opinion to express. If you think you fit the bill, contact Mark Dunn to express an interest or to get further information.

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