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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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What are you doing with your generic dividend? :: Norman Thurecht : 15/5/2012 :

In today's AusPharm feature JR Pharmacy's Norman Thurecht discusses what pharmacies should be doing with the short term additional dividend they are receiving from dispensing generic atorvastatin.

"The ability to create a short term benefit from the Atorvastatin (Lipitor) off patent opportunity is down to each pharmacy’s ability to maximise substitution. Depending on the discount taken, the break even after other 1 April price cuts is about 65% for Lipitor.

One month in and we understand there is a wide gap opening up in the market. Anecdotally some Pharmacies are achieving 90%+ substitution while others are at 50% or less. Our understanding is that the pre-buys of greater than 3 months stock were limited."

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TGA consultation document on levels and kinds of evidence to support indications and claims for listed medicines :: Ken Harvey : 10/5/2012 : 'Listers will be only too aware of the spurious therapeutic claims made for some complementary medicines. In an attempt to combat this, the TGA recently released for comment a draft updated version of the Guidelines for the levels and kinds of evidence to support indications and claims for listed medicines”.

In today's feature reform advocate Ken Harvey argues that what is needed to pull rogue players into line is the imposition of significant penalties for regulatory breaches.

"The government must implement effective, timely and transparent sanctions and penalties for breaches of compliance requirements including advertising breaches. Without these, I predict that even if this draft paper is finalised, it will have no impact on the regulatory non-compliance that is par for the course in this industry."   More... premium

Pain relievers :: John Bell : 9/5/2012 : Some studies have shown that people with certain types of recurrent headaches, not responsive to conventional treatments, may get some relief from a form of electrical stimulation.

Fortunately, for most of us, headaches and general aches and pains are just an occasional inconvenience where the use of simple pain relievers is all that’s necessary to obtain relief. Sometimes no pain reliever is necessary. Especially if the cause of the pain is known, a lifestyle or behaviour change can alleviate the pain or prevent it happening again.   More... premium

The importance of reporting adverse drug events :: PSA National President Grant Kardachi : 7/5/2012 : The recent TGA report that adverse event reporting had reached 250,000 in March this year reminds us that although this figure is encouraging, there is still a lot of work to be done in this area to get the best outcomes from medicines’ use and taxpayers dollars.  Clearly we must be ever more vigilant.

The importance of reporting adverse drug events is one which is often not fully recognised or appreciated by many health professionals or the health-consuming public with the result that many adverse events many not go reported.   More... premium

The silent masses :: Justin Lee : 7/5/2012 : The challenges facing the pharmacy profession have been well publicised by many pharmacists on a variety of platforms including AusPharmList, comments on Pharmacy News articles, Facebook groups, blogs and even letters to the editor of pharmacy journals.

Removal of pharmacy location rules, criticism of direct distribution of pharmaceuticals, capping of pharmacy student numbers and revolutionising the Pharmacy Industry Award all feature heavily among the many topics discussed by pharmacists.

Despite often intense debate on these topics, it is not uncommon for those who hold an interest in maintaining the status quo to dismiss those calling for change as the noisy minority.   More... premium

The Budget Deficit Monster Must Be Assuaged :: Stephen G. Greenwood : 24/4/2012 : Will Labor hit the Pharmacy sector in the Budget once again? Government Ministers and the Prime Minister are well aware that Pharmacy has been reformed almost to death and that current Government policies will deliver huge PBS savings into the future. But some manufacturers are still wary.

They say that assurances have been given in the past only to find that unanticipated savings measures have crept into the Budget without consultation and that in an environment where the Treasurer has to find $40 billion in savings, the attacks on Pharmacy may not yet be over.   More... premium

Influenza :: John Bell : 19/4/2012 : At this time of the year with the start of the traditional colds and flu season, pharmacists often find themselves helping customers who have influenza but may at times be convinced it is little more than a bad cold.

It is important to remember that influenza is not just a bad cold, although certainly the symptoms are somewhat similar. The flu, however, is much more serious than a cold and can potentially be a life threatening disease.   More... premium

Mens sana: Electroconvulsive Therapy :: Chris Alderman : 17/4/2012 : Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is widely regarded as the most effective form of treatment for major depression and other serious psychiatric conditions. Rapid in onset, and effective even in refractory cases, ECT is widely used in hospital-based psychiatry. Significant stigma is still associated with ECT: patients can be resistant to the use of this treatment modality because they are afraid of the treatment and its side effects. Pharmacists should have an understanding of ECT so that they can appreciate the relative place of this approach amongst the treatment options for major depression.

The mode of action of ECT remains unclear. A convulsion occurs if a large number of neurons discharge simultaneously. Changes in the extra cellular resting potential of neurons eventually spread the seizure, eventually involving the whole brain in synchronous neuronal firing.   More... premium

Pharmacy’s faceless (wo)men :: Justin Lee : 10/4/2012 : Since the knifing of former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, the media has favoured the term ‘faceless men’ to describe factional powerbrokers and number-crunchers who exert their influence in (and sometimes, from outside) the party-room, away from the prying eyes of the public. These faceless men are portrayed as immensely powerful individuals able to sway the party direction at whim. Such is their influence that they are able to make or break aspiring leaders within the party.

The leaders of the pharmacy profession are often considered to be the chief office bearers (usually presidents supported by chief executive officers) of our main pharmacist organisations (e.g. PGA, PSA, SHPA, APESMA).   More... premium

Obsessive-compulsive disorder :: Chris Alderman : 29/3/2012 : Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a relatively common anxiety disorder characterised by persistent, disturbing thoughts (obsessions) and the enactment of physical or mental rituals (compulsions) in an attempt to lessen the anxiety associated with these obsessional thoughts.

Occasionally portrayed in popular culture, some will recall the character played by Jack Nicholson in the film “As good as it gets,” who eats breakfast at the same table in the same restaurant every day using disposable plastic utensils he brings with him to avoid contamination with germs.   More... premium

Help needed for those that help pharmacists in need :: PSA National President Grant Kardachi : 26/3/2012 : The devastating floods that swept through Queensland and NSW last year, and the bushfires that hit WA, affected hundreds of thousands of Australians, among them many pharmacists who had homes and business if not totally destroyed, then badly damaged. Only a few weeks ago, pharmacists in the Canberra region were alerted to a spate of robberies at pharmacies.

These seemly unconnected events have one important factor in common – all the pharmacists and pharmacy staff affected were able to turn to the Pharmacist’s Support Service for counselling after their trauma.

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How to Pwn a Mystery Shopper :: Veronica Nou : 20/3/2012 : I'm a big believer in the QCPP program. Those of us in humble independent community pharmacies don't always get the recognition that big names do - customer satisfaction surveys don't even give the option. "Who do you think does best? Chemist Warehouse? Terry White? Amcal, Priceline, Soul Pattinsons? Or the local non-franchise place next to the butchers, whose staff you caught singing Jon Bon Jovi last week?" So it's nice to think that there is a way for people to recognise that we do in fact have high standards, even if it's not as well known as it should be.
Of course, being a QCPP participant also means you are subject to the odd mystery visit and there's nothing like telling everyone we're due to cause immediate panic. I sing out to show them the letter, telling us Armageddon is imminent   More... premium

Heads up on lice treatment :: John Bell : 19/3/2012 : This time of year is always a challenging period for parents of school-aged children because it’s about this time that school-age children will be meeting old friends and making some new friends too. Almost certainly in the mix of new acquaintances – the uninvited ones - will be head lice, with data indicating that more than 20% of primary school students are likely to have head lice.

But the reality is anyone with a head can catch head lice – regardless of age, sex, background or how clean your hair is. Head lice spread anywhere that people work, play and live together. Indeed, it takes only one infested head to infest a whole classroom full of heads; then our children so unselfishly pass the infestation on to the rest of the family.   More... premium

Fourth New Small Business Minister Could Be Breath of Fresh Air :: Stephen G. Greenwood : 13/3/2012 : The 1 April date of reckoning is fast approaching for Pharmacy where the Government is going to reap a bonanza in savings of at least $1.9 billion at the expense of Australia’s pharmaceutical manufacturers and the country’s pharmacists. Wholesalers will lose $320 million and pharmacists’ trade discounts and rebates will be slashed accordingly.

It is in this climate that pharmacy small businesses are operating and to say that times are going to be tough in 2012 is an understatement. It may well be the case that pharmacists have been protected by Guild Government Agreements since 1990 and in the last decade by ongoing generous generic discounts.   More... premium

That which motivates us :: Justin Lee : 6/3/2012 : An almost universal point of contention in enterprise bargaining between unions and governments is annual wage increases; not whether or not these wage increases should occur, but the extent of the increase. Employees covered by these enterprise agreements often consider annual wage increases an inherent right, so much so that any attempt to decrease the percentage of annual wage increases is vehemently opposed through industrial action.

Much has been said about a decline in employee community pharmacist wages in the year just gone. This would not be as big an issue if there was some level of assurance that loyalty would be rewarded with wage increases not dissimilar to those enjoyed by public servants. Yet, complaints of low wages coupled with wage stagnation have served to disillusion many young pharmacists – all of whom have to cope with the ever-increasing cost of living.   More... premium

The Teddy Bear Massacre :: Irwin Lowe : 4/3/2012 :  After taking leave of absence from his writing duties to regain his sanity Irwin’s back . . .

" Part of the rigmarole of retail community (whatever) pharmacy is the refreshing of the shop appearance so as not to appear old, tired, or unkempt.

Simple measures such as removing old notices for holidays and events-past – simultaneously evicting spiders and blowflies alike – can make a world of difference in the public’s perception."   More... premium

Your worst mistake :: PDL CEO Marie Ritchie : 1/3/2012 : PDL (Pharmaceutical Defence Limited) arranges professional indemnity insurance cover for pharmacists.  In regard to the posts ‘Your Worst Mistake’ and the case studies mentioned, we would like to remind pharmacists of the value to them of PDL.

PDL understands completely that pharmacists are first and foremost human beings.  As such mistakes will occur, no matter how diligent and thorough, conscientious and efficient, knowledgeable and helpful a pharmacist is.   More... premium

The CGP Credential – working for patients and pharmacists in Australia :: Chris Alderman : 29/2/2012 : There are now a significant number of Australian pharmacists who have achieved CGP status - CGPs can be found in every state of Australia, and these pharmacists work in a variety of fulfilling patient-centred roles.

The CGP credential is increasingly recognized in Australian hospitals as a benchmark that identifies pharmacists with a demonstrated commitment to excellence in pharmacy care for the elderly, and there is an increasing trend for departmental directors to acknowledge the advanced standing of CGPs when hiring or in the construction of career paths.   More... premium

Residential aged care opportunities :: PSA National President Grant Kardachi : 28/2/2012 : Residential aged care facilities are major users of pharmacy services but to date there has been little debate as to how pharmacists can be more effectively included in the collaborative health care team caring for the populations in these facilities.

Although pharmacists are currently funded for RMMR and QUM activities in residential care facilities, there are many other areas that occur on a daily basis – including crushing of medicines advice, clarifying drug chart queries, drug information and adverse effects of medicines - which for best outcomes require pharmacist input, thus providing a new stream of operation for pharmacists while improving the heath outcomes of older Australians.   More... premium

An experience shared may be a lesson learned :: Roy Stevenson : 23/2/2012 : I have had a second infarct 6 years after the first.  ‘Listers may appreciate my story.
Going to the end of the story first, I have just been told by the specialist cardiologist,  that what happened to me was an SVT  (Supra Ventricular Tachycardia)  which behaves like a heart attack – acute chest pain + angina + radiating pain down the left arm with a heart rate >185bpm, which was quite alarming!
He showed me a procedure to stop it, provided that the patient does it soon after onset.  So when I go to My Locum Pharmacies I now bring an extra chat session which I will be able to give to selected Nitrolingual Spray and Anginine patients.     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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