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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.


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Don’t cry for codeine, going prescription won’t hurt much :: Michael Vagg : 6/10/2015 : I’ve previously made the case that all codeine-containing pharmaceutical products be sold with prescriptions. In summary, there is mounting evidence that over-the-counter, codeine-containing medications provide modest analgesic benefits at an unacceptable cost.   More... premium

Is the Community Pharmacy Agreement the best model for pharmacy’s survival? :: Karalyn Huxhagen : 29/9/2015 : The current Community Pharmacy Agreement (6CPA) has 12 months from the 1st July 2015 to develop and focus the formula of where pharmacy is going in the next 5-10 years at least – and there are a lot of contenders vying for the right to have a share of the $50 million dollars for the pharmacy trial program. The trial program’s role is to provide program ideas to expand the role of pharmacists in the delivery of certain healthcare services.

The community pharmacy agreement’s current model is a silo of pharmacy practice. It is left wanting in being inclusive of hospital and consultant pharmacy and other evolving roles of pharmacy practice.   More... premium

Bulletproof :: Irwin Lowe : 22/9/2015 : I remember back at Pharmacy College, a lecturer mentioning that we pharmacists were entering a profession that was at a nominal risk of being randomly attacked by aggravated members of the general public. He went on depressingly to state it was statistically likely we would be held-up in an armed robbery at least once in our professional lives.

The prospect of armed robbery was not something that particularly bothered me. I was in my twenties, a care-free employee pharmacist, and therefore not only knew everything there was to know, but also possessed a fertile enough imagination to make up for any lack of combat training.   More... premium

The cover letter :: Justin Lee : 15/9/2015 : In a tough job market, it is important to stand out as a candidate when applying for a job. While it may be tempting to think that a prospective employer will closely examine your unique application and spend time pondering your unquestionable greatness, the reality is that you are likely to be one of a very large number of applicants for a position. In other words, a poorly written cover letter (or none at all) is unlikely to gain you an invitation for an interview.

While the importance of a CV or resume is well-understood, it is surprising how many poorly written (or missing) cover letters I have read in my recruitment experience. In simple terms, a cover letter is meant to introduce you and highlight how your skills and experience match the requirements of the advertised role. It can be used to draw attention to particular aspects of your CV or resume which may otherwise be overlooked. For example, if you simply list ten different pharmacy positions you have worked for in your CV, it tells less of a story than a cover letter explaining what you gained out of this experience.   More... premium

Delisting concerns :: Joe Demarte : 10/9/2015 : The Government’s recently passed health package, of which 6CPA is a part, is estimated to achieve PBS savings of $6.6 billion over the five years.

One of the measures incorporated into the PBS Access and Sustainability Package is the removal of some low-cost, over-the-counter medicines from the PBS.

Consumers will instead access these medicines from pharmacies and supermarkets, at notionally cheaper prices with the measure expected to save $.5 billion over five years.   More... premium

New Territory :: Wendy Morton : 8/9/2015 : On Thursday July 8 this year, coincidentally in the middle of a NAIDOC week I later learned was themed “We all Stand on Sacred Ground: Learn, Respect and Celebrate”. I made my very first trip to the Northern Territory. And to steal a famous cinematic quote, “I’ll be back” – albeit with far less malevolent intent than the famous android who uttered the original line.

The impetus of the trip was to celebrate the 50th birthday of a university contemporary from the 1980’s, who now lives in Darwin half of each year (the warm and dry half!). Given the distance I was travelling from my home in Central Victoria, it made sense to take some leave and tour a little before the birthday fest (have you noticed no one seems to just have a single party these days for birthdays they regard as significant?) got underway in Darwin itself.   More... premium

Fragmentation of Red Herrings :: Jarrod McMaugh : 1/9/2015 : In his second feature for AusPharm, Jarrod McMaugh demolishes the argument that 'fragmentation of care' is a genuine issue as non-medical health professionals increasingly take on tradtional 'medical' roles.


Fragmentation of care - I love hearing this term used in an argument about health care, because it means I immediately know that the person who is using this clichéd red herring has run out of ideas.

You can just imagine the meeting of minds when this concept was invented - it must have shone like a beacon for them, immediately allaying all their fears that the barbaric masses of non-medical health practitioners at the gates were about to be defeated by this wondrous new concept.

The problem is that the concept doesn't hold water, for multiples reasons.   More... premium

Pharmacists in General Practice Forum :: Debbie Rigby : 25/8/2015 : Yesterday I spent a very enjoyable and thought-provoking day in Sydney at the PSA Forum on pharmacists in general practice.

PSA brought together leaders of consumer and medical organisations, as well as practice pharmacists and GPs and the audience was privileged to hear the experiences and wisdom of young pharmacist Ravi Sharma, a pioneer of the role from the UK.

The event should be celebrated as a step towards collaborative holistic patient-centred primary care.   More... premium

You have some explaining to do :: Jarrod McMaugh : 18/8/2015 : Jarrod McMaugh is an Opinionated Pharmacist, often disgruntled, always correct.

He is interested in expanding the role of pharmacists and highlighting the value of what they already do.

We're delighted to welcome him to our writing team.

One of the primary skills a pharmacist, or any other health professional, must have to do their job adequately is the ability to communicate with their patients in an effective way, ensuring that there are no mixed messages, no misunderstandings, and that we don't instil doubt or fear of side effects.   More... premium

Customer service :: Irwin Lowe : 11/8/2015 : I used to say that if there was such a thing as reincarnation, I was going to come back in the next life as a customer.

Customer service is that Sisyphean situation where it does not matter who you are, how you feel, or even that you are a fellow human being, the maxim that “the consumer is always right” over-rides all. We are, in essence, expected to be robots of servitude. Turn off the emotion and do whatever it takes to make the purveyor of one’s goods and services happy. And that’s really the trick:  who on earth knows what makes anybody tick, let alone the random assortment of daily motivations that culminates in a particular person standing in front of you demanding your professional performance.

In the early days, I myself may well have been one of those customers from hell. Before even owning a business, I suspected that I had rights as a consumer. I let more than a few comic book stores have both barrels because I felt aggrieved in some way.   More... premium

PSA: ensuring the profession remains relevant to modern society :: PSA President Joe Demarte : 4/8/2015 : When I speak to pharmacists about why they have not joined PSA the usual response is that it costs too much.

They often mistakenly believe that PSA is only there to supply education, and as we all know, education is available today from many sources, so why pay PSA membership fees for provision of education?

What they fail to realise is that PSA’s work is far broader and that the sustainability of their career going forward is intimately linked with this work.   More... premium

Food For Thought :: Wendy Morton : 30/7/2015 : In today's feature Wendy Morton looks at the range of 'diets' available to us all these days, their possible effect on health and what role pharmacists might have in demystifying the huge amount of information available.

About 25 years ago, when I was a newly hired representative for a pharmaceutical company touting their newly launched gemfibrozil (Lopid®) to combat dyslipidaemia, I happened upon a GP in a working class suburb in Melbourne whose waiting room was deserted.   More... premium

Voices from the grave :: Justin Lee : 21/7/2015 : As a pharmacist working in the area of medication safety, one of the key aspects of my role is to review medication-related clinical incidents to identify areas that may require intervention to reduce the risk of similar incidents occurring. There are many different types of incident reviews that may be conducted depending on the severity and circumstances surrounding an incident.

We sometimes hear about ‘coronial investigations’ in association with deaths (or suspected deaths) of a ‘spectacular’ nature that attracts widespread media attention such as the disappearance of Azaria Chamberlain and the fire at Quakers Hill Nursing Home in New South Wales. In actual fact, the Coroners Act in each State and Territory defines the types of deaths that need to be reported to the coroner and the circumstances under which a coroner may decide to hold an inquest.   More... premium

Wheels off :: Irwin Lowe : 14/7/2015 : There are the days in life where everything goes right. I had one of those days, and it was a particularly special one.  Usually the life of a retailer - much like the life of a farmer - is always miserable. Miserable because we don’t want to put the moz on things by being at all optimistic, but mostly I think because we’re a bunch of wretched b@stards.

The day started like any: mostly banal with some good and some not so good events. Score some goals and then have some scored against me and then rinse and repeat only to realise it’s 4.30pm, and the lunch I’d sent the junior out to fetch for me is now stone cold and completely unappetising. Dare you risk a bite knowing that as soon as you do the next customer will walk in?   More... premium

6CPA – we now have a plan for the next five years or do we? :: Karalyn Huxhagen : 7/7/2015 : The 6CPA has hit our desks and everyone is looking to this document to give us a plan to enable pharmacy to move into the next five year cycle. BUT on the edge of this plan are the announcements in the budget and from the Minister herself that need to be interwoven into the ‘plan’. The plan is called the ‘PBS access and Sustainability Package’.

This may be seen as a better scenario than the last two agreements where we have signed agreements and moved on only to have Government pull swift rugs from under us to cause pain and anxiety to an industry that is clearly in crisis economically and within its own ranks.   More... premium

The Agreement and the effect of $1.00 :: Norman Thurecht : 30/6/2015 : In today's feature article, JR Pharmacy Services Norman Thurecht takes a look at 6CPA dispensary profitability and the impact of a $1.00 PBS co-payment discount.

The recently announced completion of the 6th Guild/Government Agreement is a very positive announcement for pharmacy owners, customers and staff as it provides increased trading certainty for the next 5 years. The concern however is that the option to discount the patient co-payment will act to destabilise the surety to stakeholders provided within the body of other changes.   More... premium

Pharmacists must embrace PSA’s Code of Ethics :: PSA National President Grant Kardachi : 16/6/2015 : Public access in pharmacies to the PSA Code of Ethics will have the effect of further underpinning adherence by pharmacists to the highest ethical and professional standards across all areas of the profession.

Public commitment by pharmacists to the code is a view reinforced by Dr Betty Chaar who, writing in her Ethical Dilemmas column in Australian Pharmacist in January 2015, commented: ‘There is great power in making a promise to serve a greater cause than one’s own comfort and well-being. This commitment is the essence of professionalism, and proclaiming that commitment aloud and in public establishes a firmer foundation for accountability than simply being aware of the Code of Ethics.’   More... premium

Whatever happened to pharmaceutical care? :: 2012 PSA Pharmacist of the Year: Deirdre Criddle : 11/6/2015 : Deirdre Criddle has worked, and continues to work in many different pharmacy settings including hospital, industry, academia and the community. In 2012, she was awarded the Eric Kirk award for outstanding contribution to pharmacy in Western Australia and also received the PSA Australian Pharmacist of the Year Award.

I have seen much written and heard much said. There has been chest beating and line-drawing, talk of ground breaking initiatives redefined as rule breaking and downright dangerous practice - all depending upon the eye of the beholder, or the voice of the professional commenting on recent changes.    More... premium

If it ain’t broke, why fix it? :: Justin Lee : 9/6/2015 : Anyone who reads articles by commentators in publications such as the Australian Financial Review and The Australian could be forgiven for getting the impression that pharmacists are running an inefficient money-making cartel, ripping off taxpayers in the process.

In response, many pharmacists have taken to social media to hit back at what they consider to be misinformation by unqualified commentators who appear to have a personal vendetta against the pharmacy profession.   More... premium

He with the deepest pockets wins :: Irwin Lowe : 2/6/2015 : In today's feature - the final part of the tale of how Irwin Lowe became Irwin The Evil Chemist - Irwin reinforces the old legal adage - 'he with the deepest pockets wins'


Facing an insurmountable position, one has two options.  The first one, and this is what most of us attempt, is to try and change the world; a kind of alteration of reality to fit the desired outcome. 

The second is to change your own perception of the world, and of that particular problem.  Inevitably, if we attempt the first tack, after a single, or many multiple attempts, we fail and end up resorting to the latter option, which is the well-trodden path to acceptance.    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.

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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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