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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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Who Will Set The Pharmacy Agenda in 2013? :: Stephen G. Greenwood : 11/12/2012 : With the year drawing to a close and the politicians returning to their electorates after a prolonged period of mud slinging on both sides, most members of the public and the public service as well heaved a sigh of relief all the while muttering “Good riddance to bad rubbish”.  Month after month we have witnessed a Government which is determined to convince people that it is in control of the policy agenda when all the evidence points to the opposite. Don’t worry. They’ll be back next February and hopefully the public’s short memory will enable us to trust them then.

But for now we don’t and the Prime Minister is now the least trusted Prime Minister since federation. The latest Galaxy poll conducted for News Limited using a large sample of over 1000 voters, reveals that over sixty per cent of Australians think that the Prime Minister is less than honest. Thirty one per cent of respondents said that she has been ‘economical with the truth’ while the same number said outright that she is ‘a liar’ in the context of her involvement in the AWU workplace association scandal. Not a good look.   More... premium

Staying free from infection :: John Bell : 6/12/2012 : Infectious disease is as old as life itself. The various plagues of Egypt were documented in the Old Testament (though the causes might be in some dispute) and in this context the word plague really means, and from time to time still means, not just some widespread infectious disease but any form of major calamity.

From a medical perspective, plague refers to a specific disease caused by a bacterium and carried by rats. The plague (also called the Black Death) of the mid 14th century is said to have wiped out between 30% and 60% of the population of Europe.   More... premium

The importance of engagement :: PSA National President Grant Kardachi : 4/12/2012 : The importance of successful and ongoing engagement with all consumers and with the community in general is one of the key drivers to getting things done in the pharmacy environment.

How we actually go about achieving that successful engagement is critical to its ultimate and ongoing success   More... premium

Wendy Phillips retires today :: Bill Arnold : 30/11/2012 : I have known Wendy since she began with the Guild 20 years ago. I interviewed her for AusPharm on the day her appointment as Executive Director was announced.  I recall we discussed her perception of the challenges and opportunities she would face in her new position.  I think the Guild has achieved for more than she envisaged in her time as ED.

Many of us are very ready to criticise “The Guild”.  It is often totally forgotten that every Community Pharmacy Owner, both for themselves, and their employees (many of us) the Guild is our only defense, a unified defense, against those entities that do not have our welfare at heart.   More... premium

Phases of response to antipsychotic drug treatment :: Chris Alderman : 23/11/2012 :

Whilst the response to treatment with antipsychotic drugs can be defined in a reductionist sense as the resolution of the features of psychosis, in clinical practice it is clear that the process can be viewed as evolving through a number of phases, during which treatment aims to address specific priorities.

In the first instance, the primary objective is simply to attain a state of medicated cooperation. Other objectives are to treat psychotic agitation, and to reduce risk of harm to patient, as well as carers or staff. This often involves a need to provide significant sedation so that the patient is calm and less distressed, and this can also mean that the patient’s behaviours are less distressing and threatening to staff, visitors, carers etc. During this phase of treatment, drugs are often administered as a short acting injection, or orally as a liquid dose form or dissolving wafer. The calming effect and tranquilisation is often achieved before there is any significant impact upon positive or negative symptoms of psychosis.   More... premium

Are public hospital pharmacists safe from razor gangs? :: Justin Lee : 12/11/2012 : Since community pharmacists make up the vast majority of registered pharmacists in Australia, it follows that pharma media coverage generally focuses on this aspect of pharmacy practice. The countless articles that are written concerning community pharmacy gives us insight as to the current state of the major employment arm of the profession.

On the other hand, issues affecting the current state of the hospital pharmacy sector are not often reported by the pharma media. Those with limited exposure to hospital pharmacy practice are often left with the impression that it is a sector that is immune to financial pressures, such as those community pharmacy face, and are able to carry on as a shining example of ideal pharmacy practice; pharmacists utilising their clinical knowledge in multidisciplinary teams and contributing directly to improved patient therapeutic outcomes.   More... premium

Kununurra :: David Haworth : 8/11/2012 : Most 'listers will be aware of the photographic and wordsmithing skills of long time fellow 'lister David Haworth.

In today's feature he demonstrates both with great skill.

"Another successful night of nose breathing in the Kimberley.... With dry air and an essential airconditioner whispering on low, mouth breathing is a short cut to a broken night’s sleep when you wake with a dusty cave in the front of your face."   More... premium

Intern crisis highlights why pharmacy must grow the agreement pie :: Stephen G. Greenwood : 8/11/2012 : Most pharmacists, thanks to the power of social media, will have been alerted to the ongoing crisis which medical students are facing in Australia because of the Government’s inability to provide, through the States, sufficient funding for medical internships.

In pharmacy too, it is already evident that the numbers of pharmacy graduates is outstripping traditional supply levels which is leading to a lack of career choices and lower commencement salaries.   More... premium

The price of doing the same old thing is far higher than the price of change :: PSA National President Grant Kardachi : 6/11/2012 : Delegates at PAC12 may have initially wondered at the reference to Charles Darwin on a number of occasions. However, such reference was very appropriate given the congress focussed to a great extent on how the profession and the healthcare environment are changing, and how we as a profession need to change with it.

The quote from Charles Darwin, which was referred to on several occasions was: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives nor the most intelligent but the one that is most responsive to change.”    More... premium

Treatment resistant depression :: Chris Alderman : 30/10/2012 :

As a clinical pharmacist working in psychiatry, a question commonly asked relates to the various approaches that might be employed if a patient with severe depression has not responded to treatment as expected. There are many treatment options available, and it is important to approach the issue systematically. To do this, the best approach involves a stepwise evaluation of a range of issues:

Sometimes the drug therapy option is not working because the patient may have an illness other than major depressive disorder. For example, many other psychiatric conditions have features in common with major depression, including some anxiety disorders, bipolar affective disorder, and some forms of personality disorder. If a mis-diagnosis can be identified, this might provide an opportunity at target pharmacotherapy – for example, to introduce a mood stabiliser drug such as lamotrigine or lithium if dealing with bipolar II disorder.   More... premium

Career disruption :: Justin Lee : 23/10/2012 : ‘Job security’ is a term that is becoming increasingly rare in the current job market. It seems that every day, some company or other is shedding staff. Chocolatiers, media/newspaper outlets, automobile manufacturers, utility companies and government departments are among the many that have announced job losses over the past months. Even mining giants that are seen as the heartbeat of the Australian economy have announced job losses prompting some commentators to herald the demise of the mining boom.

I recently witnessed first-hand the fallout from career disruption caused by the axe of public service health savings. Many highly experienced and skilled pharmacists who have spent their whole career in the public service were purged from the system without any consideration of the potential impact on patient health outcomes. These pharmacists now find themselves in a position where they need to re-enter a highly competitive and heavily saturated pharmacist job market.   More... premium

GORD! That really burns :: John Bell : 15/10/2012 : For 'listers interest, here is the latest John Bell Self Care column - these columns are widely published in pharmacy newsletters and mainstream media around the country.

In 2005, Australians Barry Marshall and Robin Wren were awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine. It was recognition that some 20 years earlier they had demonstrated that it was chiefly the Helicobacter pylori bacteria which was the underlying cause of peptic (stomach) ulcer; and they thus revolutionised the treatment of this condition.   More... premium

Framework for pharmacists as partners in the mental health :: PSA National President Grant Kardachi : 15/10/2012 : The Government’s recognition of the need to boost its focus on the provision of mental health services aligns closely with a body of work that PSA has been developing and will shortly launch.

The Society is committed to enhancing and expanding the role of pharmacists in the provision of mental health care by using the expertise in drug knowledge that pharmacists have in a wide variety of various settings to support mental health patients.   More... premium

Itís All About Trust According to Lindsay Tanner :: Stephen G. Greenwood : 8/10/2012 : Lindsay Tanner was one of a fast diminishing breed of politicians who

always said what they thought rather than what they thought might be popular. Not only that but as one of the more prominent figures on the left of Labor politics, what Tanner had to say was often incisive and insightful.

So you can imagine the alarm among the Labor spin doctors and those trying to carefully craft the perception that the Prime Minister Julia Gillard is masterminding a Labor recovery from its dismal polling when Tanner recently launched his book of political essays called Politics With Purpose. For what Tanner documents is that the Labor Party he knew and loved has changed so fundamentally that it is dominated by politics without purpose. It seems to Tanner that winning at all costs is the raison d’etre of the Prime Minister and the party.   More... premium

Adverse reaction reporting important :: PSA National President Grant Kardachi : 24/9/2012 : PSA members have welcomed the introduction of the medicines use review (MedsCheck) and diabetes medication management (Diabetes MedsCheck) services as an extension of their normal business operations and also as a vehicle to expand their practice model.

The  MedsCheck services are seeing pharmacists who perform them engage in very valuable  communication with their patients, and the issue of adverse drug events has been surfacing in some of these conversations.   More... premium

Beware the deadliest of all the nightshades :: John Bell : 20/9/2012 : Extracts from the plant Atropa belladonna have had long histories as medicines, as cosmetics and also as poisons. It’s a member of the Nightshade family but so potent is belladonna as a poison it bears the common name “deadly nightshade”.

The word belladonna is derived from the Italian and means beautiful lady, so called because of its use to dilate the pupils to produce a seductive look. Belladonna has long been considered one of the world’s most toxic plants. However, these days we know that belladonna is far from the most deadly of all the nightshades. Other members of this extended family include potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, chili peppers and tobacco.  And tobacco has become the single greatest cause of preventable death worldwide.   More... premium

Desperate times call for desperate measures :: Justin Lee : 17/9/2012 : Last week's opinion piece from Stephen Greenwood, widely discussed in pharmacy circles since, was a cracker. So is today's contribution from young Queensland pharmacist Justin Lee.

"Individuals who find themselves in systems where their value as a professional is disregarded would have little reason to play along with the mechanisms of the system. Indeed, some may turn against the very system that they feel has turned its back on them. Proponents of the free market often exhort the mantra that competition breeds innovation. Yet, many fail to see that innovation is placed at the positive end of the spectrum. At the other end of the spectrum looms the threat of anarchy � the desire to destroy the oppressing system."   More... premium

Uncertain Future Worries Many Pharmacy Graduates :: Stephen G. Greenwood : 6/9/2012 : Does Pharmacy offer a certain future for young pharmacists? Most proprietors would instinctively say “Of course it does”. But over the last couple of years, online postings on the web and social media, as well as questions from young pharmacists at conferences and seminars and articles in pharmacy journals here and overseas have led many to question that assumption.

The first indications that all was not well came to light over a year ago when young pharmacists started posting concerns at the level of graduate salaries in pharmacy compared with the salaries of other recently graduated health professionals. Many young pharmacists were angry that the level of their skills were simply not being used in pharmacies in which they worked and that the hourly rates were almost comparable with those applying in general retailing.   More... premium

Donít be caught offline :: Mark Nicholson : 3/9/2012 : Change for all “Bricks and Mortar” retailers is becoming increasingly urgent as consumers continue to rapidly shift their expectations and habits based on online and multi-channel retail experiences. The bar is continually being raised by internet retailers and consumers are enjoying the benefits.

And unfortunately for offline Pharmacy retailers the “clicks” consumer group is now mainstream – ie Pharmacy’s core customer group of over 60’s who are now are shopping the internet for both information and product.   More... premium

Psychiatric conditions associated with elevated mood (Part I) :: Chris Alderman : 28/8/2012 :

Bipolar I, Bipolar II disorder and cyclothymia are associated with episodes where there is abnormally and persistently elevated, expansive, or irritable mood. Elevated mood does not necessarily mean that the person affected is especially happy or cheerful, and under these circumstances the patient can create danger for themselves or others. At times behaviour can be inattentive, over-confident or grandiose, and the potential for enduring adverse consequences can be profound.

A manic episode is usually manifested as a distinct period of abnormally and persistently elevated, expansive or irritable mood, lasting for a week or more. Diagnostic criteria require that three or more of inflated self-esteem or grandiosity,  decreased need for sleep, increased talkativeness, racing thoughts, distractibility, increased goal-directed activity or psychomotor agitation, or excessive involvement in pleasurable activities that have high potential for painful consequences should be documentable to make the diagnosis.   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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