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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 AusPharm.net.au P/L, its directors or editorial group unless explicitly stated to be so.


Opinion

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Mens sana: What is psychosis? :: Chris Alderman : 21/2/2012 : Have you ever wondered exactly what the word 'psychosis' actually means?

Today's AusPharm features a first rate explanation from Dr Chris Alderman.

"Psychosis is a symptom, not a disease. The term is used to describe a state of psychological and/or behavioural disorder that is characterised by the presence of one or more distinctive syndromes that cause a significant derangement of the capacity of the affected individual to be able to perceive and interpret their surroundings and existence."

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Real World Shows Gillard’s No Iron Lady :: Stephen G. Greenwood : 14/2/2012 : At the beginning of April Australian pharmacy will face its toughest test in a decade when the Government introduces the massive price reductions that were negotiated with Medicines Australia under the Memorandum of Understanding with the Government – a MOU supported by the Pharmacy Guild of Australia.

The Guild says it has “allocated considerable resources to provide advice, support and advice to membership preparing for the changes” given that the expanded price disclosure regime will apply to all drugs listed on the PBS that have more than one manufacturer.   More... premium


Playing it safe with complementary medicines :: John Bell : 9/2/2012 : The enviable reputation of community pharmacy is based on trust. Trust that pharmacists and pharmacy staff will provide advice and, when necessary, recommend products which are evidence-based and appropriate for individual customers.

Scheduled products, whether they be prescription medicines or pharmacy-only or pharmacist-only medicines, are required to be evaluated by the Therapeutic Goods Administration for quality, safety and efficacy. Indeed, any product which claims to be a cure or to be able to manage, treat or prevent a disease must also undergo similar evaluation. Generally we can be confident that such medicines will do what they’re meant to do.   More... premium


The harsh reality of economic pressures :: Justin Lee : 7/2/2012 : Reading the finance section of most major newspapers, one could be forgiven for thinking that we are living in times of extreme economic distress. Occupy Wall Street protests, the European economic crisis, stock market crashes and rising fuel prices all point towards a turbulent economic period irrespective of the stage people are at in their lives – whether looking for employment in a highly competitive job market, struggling to meet rising costs to support a family or looking to retire on unsustainable superannuation savings.

Pharmacies are not immune to these economic pressures. With ongoing mandatory price reductions as the single most obvious example, pharmacies are facing the full brunt of government fiscal policy intent on securing cost savings   More... premium


The safe and effective use of medicines :: PSA National President Grant Kardachi : 30/1/2012 : The rate of medicines’ use by those aged 50 and over has been put into the spotlight by a survey conducted by the NPS and the University of Melbourne which clearly shows that as the population ages, and the rate of medicines’ consumption increases, the need for pharmacist advice, counselling becomes and involvement in medicines management all the more important.

The NPS survey of Australians aged 50 and over found 87% of Australians in the age group used at least one medicine; the use of multiple medicines was common with one third of 50-64 year olds, almost half of 65-74 year olds, and two thirds of people aged 75 and over taking five or more medicines on the day the survey was taken; and 90.3% women were medicine users compared with 83.9% of men.   More... premium


Explainer: do we need to follow medication use-by dates? :: Lisa Nissen - Associate Professor of Pharmacy at University of Queensland : 17/1/2012 : Today's feature was originally published a fortnight ago on the Conversation.

It's written with consumers in mind we're sure 'listers will be interested too.

"It’s late in the night. And after a long day at work, you have a splitting headache. You rattle around in the bottom drawer of the bathroom vanity to find a packet of paracetamol tablets you know are hiding there.

Phew, relief is at hand! Then you turn the packet over and discover that the crumpled box of pills actually expired two years ago."   More... premium


The power of one (2004) :: Bill Suen : 12/1/2012 : I am advocating for a single pharmacy peak body in Australia, a peak body that not only allows pooling of all existing resources towards achieving our common goals, but also fosters skill sharing and understanding among various sectors within the profession.

Hopefully we can focus on advancing our professional practice and securing the role of pharmacists in the healthcare system, rather than worrying about not to step on each other's toes, or arguing who has the right to represent the profession, competing for members, or conducting 'me-too' conferences and activities to prove that we need all these different organisations.   More... premium


Mangled Language :: Ron Batagol : 30/12/2011 : Perhaps a few days late but as we begin a New Year, I wonder if we couldn’t all make a resolution to make some sort of effort to reclaim the English language and return to plain English expression whenever possible!  Yes, I do understand that we must use an infinite variety of jargon to convey technical or complicated concepts and ideas, and this is nowhere more self-evident than in discussing the complexities of community and public health issues, therapeutics etc . 

However, it seems to me that meaningless and nonsensical throwaway lines are becoming ubiquitous, and replacing meaningful expressions in almost every aspect of human endeavour, with those in politics, business and the sporting environment, being the worst serial offenders.   More... premium


Mens sana: Hyponatraemia with psychotropic drugs :: Chris Alderman : 22/12/2011 : Many of the psychotropic drugs are associated with the development a low serum sodium concentration, otherwise known as hyponatraemia. Various mechanisms may contribute, hyponatraemia secondary to psychogenic polydipsia needs to be considered for patients who develop abnormal thirst symptoms and/or markedly increased fluid intake.

Hyponatraemia may also be associated with chronic alcohol misuse, a comorbidity commonly encountered amongst those with serious mental illness. Having said this, the most common underlying cause for clinically significant hyponatraemia amongst patients treated with psychotropic drugs is the Syndrome of Inappropriate Antidiuretic Hormone (SIADH).   More... premium


What's 2012 Hold for Pharmacy :: Stephen G. Greenwood : 20/12/2011 : For the Prime Minister her year of decision and delivery is almost over. It’s been an amazingly underwhelming year for Labor where the uncertainty of running a minority Government was compounded by gross incompetence in implementing almost every policy the Government embraced.  And what better way to end the year by confounding everyone and reshuffling the Ministry and making all things new again while ensuring that all outstanding Ministerial decisions just disappear.  But one thing is sure in the uncertain world of future health funding – the Guild Government Agreement.

Pharmacists should get down on their hands and knees and thank the Guild for delivering the Fifth Agreement because that seems to be one of the few certainties that Pharmacy can rely on in the year ahead. That said there are clouds on the horizon for all to see.   More... premium


Access to rural programs :: PSA National President Grant Kardachi : 12/12/2011 : PSA Members are rightly confused by the recent decision to reduce eligibility to rural pharmacy programs funded under the Fifth Community Pharmacy Agreement.

The new eligibility rules are based on the Pharmacy Access/Remoteness Index of Australia (PhARIA) under which rural and regional areas are given a rating according to their residents’ perceived access to community pharmacy services. Under the system, PhARIA 1 locations are seen to have high levels of access to community pharmacy community pharmacy services, with access decreasing from PhARIA2 to PhARIA 6.    More... premium


The Pharmacy Guild and the straw man argument :: Geoff March, President, Professional Pharmacists Australia : 7/12/2011 : Today's AusPharm feature is an op ed from Pharmacists' Division of APESMA President Geoff March.

"From the owners' guild’s bunker, we have seen the usual response to any potential threat - whether real or imaginary - to the Guild’s representation as “the national peak body representing community pharmacy”. It must have been unimaginable to them that the majority of pharmacy organisations would actually get together and call for a new future for the pharmacy profession and for patients.

The owners’ guild has reacted as it always has – bully the organisation calling for change.  In this case it has been the Pharmacy Coalition for Health Reform that has been subjected to the Guild's ire."   More... premium


Something’s gotta give (1) :: Justin Lee : 6/12/2011 : In today's AusPharm feature Justin Lee takes a critical look at claims there exists a pharmacist workforce oversupply. This is a long piece and we'll run it in two parts, first part today, second part this Thursday.

"Now that the conference buzz from the Pharmacy Australia Congress 2011 should have well and truly dissipated, it would be useful to reflect on the topic of this year’s ‘Great Debate’ – that too many pharmacists spoil the broth.

As reported on AusPharm, the pre-debate poll saw 45% of the audience agree that there was an oversupply of pharmacists, 37% disagree and the remaining 18% undecided. A solid performance by the team against the proposition led by Jeff Hughes saw a reversal in voter sentiment - 58% now disagreeing that there were too many pharmacists, followed by 34% agreeing and 8% (still) undecided.

Contrast this with a poll taken on AusPharm where a resounding 84% agreed that there was a pharmacist workforce oversupply, a mere 11% disagreed and 4% were not sure."   More... premium


Something’s gotta give - Part 2 :: Justin Lee : 5/12/2011 : Here is Part 2 of Justin Lee's article, exploring whether or not there exists a pharmacist oversupply in Australia.

If you haven't already read it, please read Part 1 first.

"There is some measure of circumstantial asymmetry between proponents and opponents to the notion of an oversupply of pharmacists. By and large, those who deny an oversupply are pharmacists who, by virtue of their knowledge and experience, would have little trouble obtaining a position elsewhere if they were to lose their jobs."   More... premium


The Forgotten People :: Trent Twomey : 1/12/2011 : 'Listers will be only too aware of the infighting in the profession in recent times over (along with other issues) the proposed Senate Review of the 5th Community Pharmacy Agreement.

In today's AusPharm feature, Trent Twomey puts the point of view of a young pharmacy owner.

"Over the past week I have fought an ideological battle, one I think needs to be given some context and background. While I have recently become a National Councilor of the Pharmacy Guild and the National President of the Australian College of Pharmacy, I write not as a representative of an organisation but as a young Pharmacist.

I am a Pharmacist who bought his first home right before the GFC and is now to afraid to have it re-valued."
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Lithium toxicity :: Chris Alderman : 29/11/2011 : Despite being a drug of low therapeutic index, many clinicians still consider lithium to be the “gold standard” drug for the management of bipolar affective disorder. In addition lithium is also used for other specific psychiatric indications such as augmentation of antidepressant treatment in major depression, and in combination with antipsychotic drugs for the management of schizoaffective disorder.

Lithium dosing should be guided by the use of therapeutic drug monitoring, using measurement of serum concentrations to maximise treatment efficacy and reduce the likelihood of toxicity. Although there is some variability between different pathology service and reporting laboratories, a frequently cited therapeutic range is 0.5 - 1.0 mmol/L, although slightly higher concentrations (up to 1.2 mmol/L) are sometimes used for acute mania.   More... premium


Wages: APESMA responds :: Geoff March, President, Professional Pharmacists Australia : 25/11/2011 : Contained in one of the numerous recent AusPharmList posts on employee pharmacist wages and conditions was the observation that no-one from the pharmacist employee union, the Pharmacists' Division of APESMA (PDA) responds to comments made on AusPharmList.

In today's feature (available to ALL 'listers) PDA President Dr Geoff March explains the Australia award wage system and comments on its relevance to pharmacy.   More... premium


Feet of endurance :: John Bell : 24/11/2011 : It’s no wonder the feet can be described as fairly complicated pieces of machinery; fifty-two bones, a quarter of all the body’s bones, are in the feet. Hippocrates, the great grandfather of the medical profession stated that “walking is man’s best medicine”. He may not have always been spot-on for evidence-based information, but this advice has survived the test of time.

The latest  issue of Self care’s InPHARMation describes how we can best advise customers how to keep their feet functioning free from corns, calluses and infections.   More... premium


Pharmacy Could Be in the Government’s Crosshairs :: Stephen G. Greenwood : 21/11/2011 : “At a time of global economic turbulence, where there are developed countries all around the world that have implemented over a long period of time lax fiscal policy and are now paying the price for that in their real economy, it is really important that a country like Australia with such a strong economy demonstrates its capacity to put in place fiscal discipline”.

So said Treasurer Wayne Swan in answering questions about the likelihood that the Government will not be able to achieve a surplus in 2012 - 2013. That means that big spending cuts are just around the corner for every sector of the economy, including pharmacy.   More... premium


The CGP Credential – working for patients and pharmacists in Australia :: Chris Alderman : 17/11/2011 : Although the majority of pharmacists who have achieved Certified Geriatric Pharmacist (CGP) status live and work in the USA, a substantial number of these practitioners can also be found in other nations including Canada, Australia, Singapore and others.

Since the first Australian pharmacist achieved CGP certification in 1999, the number of CGPs has continued to grow, with 70 pharmacists now holding the credential, representing nearly 4% of the overall cohort of CGPs worldwide.

Today, CGPs can be found in every state of Australia, and these pharmacists work in a variety of fulfilling patient-centred roles.   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 AusPharm.net.au 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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