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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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MMR Facilitators program does not survive into 5th agreement funding :: Mel Blachford : 5/8/2010 : Mel Blachford shares some of his thoughts on the MMR Facilitators program, which began under the third agreement and continued into the 4th agreement.

"Whilst the MMR Facilitators program has ceased, the HMR and RMMR referrals continue into the 5th agreement. In the future this program will be seen as the catalyst that helped doctors and pharmacists to work together for the good of their patients and better health outcomes. It broke down the barriers."

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The MMR Facilitator Program :: Mike Quaass : 5/8/2010 : The MMR Facilitator Program had a significant impact on changing the nature of pharmacy by providing new opportunities for pharmacists to utilise their specialised knowledge and expertise. It was part of a suite of Medication Management Services negotiated as part the Third Community Pharmacy Agreement in 2000. It built on previous arrangements for delivery of medication reviews. 

It was a complex program requiring the Guild to potentially fund 127 State and Divisional GP organisations, and 8 State Guild Branches. Each of these 135 funding points had their own culture, issues and demography that affected their relationship with other stakeholders and interaction with the Guild.   More... premium

Keeping an eye to the future - superannuation :: Mark Birrell : 3/8/2010 : In a recent superannuation poll on AusPharm, the highest number of respondents said they were self-employed and had their superannuation planning under control. Does this show a false sense of confidence or are pharmacists more financially savvy than the norm? Mark Birrell, of Guild Financial Planning, discusses superannuation for pharmacy owners, and the possibility of purchasing a pharmacy business property through a self managed super fund.    More... premium

Issues Papers, Roadmaps and a Vision for Pharmacy's future :: John Jackson : 27/7/2010 : Healthcare is undergoing massive reform in Australia, as it has done recently in other countries, and the pharmacy profession needs a clear picture of where they want to be going. Given the diversity within the pharmacy profession, the specific issues that the profession faces vary depending on who assembles the list, however there are definitely some issues that are common to all pharmacists’ lists.

John Jackson identifies the key broad healthcare reforms taken in other countries, and urges pharmacists in Australia to contribute to the debate to a common vision for the future of Australian pharmacy.   More... premium

First meeting of therapeutic products promotion working group :: Ken Harvey : 23/7/2010 : A first meeting of the working group convened by the Parliamentary Secretary for Health to address public concern over the promotion of therapeutic products to healthcare professionals and the current self-regulatory codes of conducts, was held in Sydney on 21 July, 2010.

Already disappointment has been expressed by one party for not having a seat at at the table, namely the Complementary Healthcare Council. The CHC point out that although they represent the complementary industry, this doesn't mean their member companies only have low risk products. A few complementary medicines are registered (rather than listed) and considered high risk and so only suited to advertising to healthcare professionals.

Nevertheless, it is encouraging to read the following report from public health expert, Dr Ken Harvey, of a positive and co-operative start by the working group comprising representatives of health professionals, industry sectors and consumers...   More... premium

Wage incentives disappearing for pharmacy qualifications :: PSA National President: Warwick Plunkett : 22/7/2010 : Comments in AusPharmList recently have raised growing concerns about the disappearing parity between the incomes of pharmacists and the wages of other community pharmacy staff including technicians and pharmacy assistants.

Pharmacists in community pharmacy are seeing an erosion in their real wages which they rightly question given the years of training and other continuing education requirements they undertake and continue to undertake in order to practise their profession.   More... premium

Tony Abbott - what can pharmacy expect? :: Stephen G. Greenwood : 20/7/2010 : With the federal election set for 21 August, Stephen Greenwood has provided AusPharm with a timely consideration of the contenders for PM and their relationship with pharmacy.

Last week he reflected on Julia Gillard's dealings to date with the pharmacy sector; this week it's Tony Abbott's track record in health, his political style and staff that are examined.

"In contrast to Julia Gillard, Tony Abbott is well known to Community Pharmacy. As one of John Howard’s heavy hitters, he was appointed as Health Minister in September 2003...

...As Health Minister it was never a matter of getting him to understand the Guild’s arguments on ownership or the threat of the supermarkets or other issues, rather, it was a matter of getting him to actually take the time to focus on them before it was too late."
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Julia Gillard - friend or foe? :: Stephen G. Greenwood : 13/7/2010 : With a federal election seemingly about to be called, what sort of a relationship does pharmacy have with Julia Gillard?

In today's feature, former Pharmacy Guild Executive Director Stephen Greenwood, tells us what he thinks. Watch this space next week when Stephen comments on the profession's relationship with alternate Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

"The ruthless excision of Rudd by his colleagues and subsequent whispering campaign about his seemingly endless failings by those who never said boo to a goose when he was the most popular Prime Minister this country has ever had, poses a number of interesting questions.

Chief among these for the pharmacy profession is whether a Gillard led Government or an Abbott led Government will change the nature of relations that pharmacy had with the Rudd Government and had with Rudd personally."    More... premium

Business Boosting Tips for Your Pharmacy :: Vanessa Lontos : 8/7/2010 : Finding time to work on your business and not just in your business is becoming increasingly difficult for pharmacists.  Supporting customers, managing staff, developing systems  and coming up with new ideas on how to grow the business can be overwhelming, time-consuming and stressful, to say the least. 

In this first article from CreatingMe Consulting's Vanessa Lontos, we look at how you can increase sales whilst still working in the business, takes no extra time and is guaranteed to help your business grow immediately.   More... premium

Living in the Noughties, a study of locum accommodation :: David Haworth : 6/7/2010 : Reading a new locum retelling a horror tale of substandard accommodation recently on AusPharmList got me thinking about the range of digs I’ve had in the 6 years I’ve been working as a locum after selling my pharmacy in Sylvania in Sydney.

Working two to four weeks away from home at a time I have a few basic requirements - somewhere quiet, self contained with cooking facilities and ironing and washing gear. Bonuses include internet access (not so common) and widescreen TV’s (getting more common).   More... premium

I'm Confused! :: Gerald Quigley : 29/6/2010 : As I headed into the education sessions at the recent Pharmacy Expo at Darling Harbour, I was pleased to see that Expo staff were scanning the barcodes of each delegate to ensure, I would assume, that appropriate CPE points were entitled to be claimed, and more especially, if you didn’t attend a session, to ensure that you weren’t able to claim those points.

I couldn’t help but think back to APP on the Gold Coast in March. The educational aspects here were quite interesting. Registration at the Conference seemed to allow you to “tick the boxes” of not only those sessions which you actually attended, but additionally, those which you meant to attend but went shopping instead.   More... premium

Does anybody really understand the skills and knowledge of a practising pharmacist? :: PSA National President: Warwick Plunkett : 24/6/2010 : A major issue facing the pharmacy profession at present is how to project the true role of pharmacists to the public in general, and to government and other stakeholders in particular.

The reality is that today there is a lack of awareness of what we do as a profession and all too often the perception is that pharmacists simply dispense medications. The range of professional services, as well as our preventive and primary health-care roles – to name but a few things - is either ignored or simply not front of mind for most people.

This is a situation which we need to address, and address quickly.   More... premium

Location Rules Rightly Benefit Pharmacy But Pricing Is Another Story :: Stephen G. Greenwood : 22/6/2010 : Australian Ministers for Health have always been pragmatic in supporting pharmacy while keeping an eye on the demands of the electorate.

Not so long ago we saw the Minister for Health and Ageing, Nicola Roxon, intervene to approve another pharmacy in Colac in response to so called community dissatisfaction and a petition from over 4000 souls wanting greater competition by which they clearly meant discounted drugs.   More... premium

Proposed Board Dispensing guidelines :: PSA National President: Warwick Plunkett : 10/6/2010 : An issue causing considerable debate in the profession at the moment centres on dispensing technicians and the draft guidelines over their use.

The debate hinges on the Pharmacy Board of Australia’s consultation paper on guidelines which addresses this issue, albeit not to the satisfaction of many in the profession.

The PBA proposed national guidelines follow almost to the letter those already in effect in Victoria and put succinctly, stipulate that a pharmacy technician must be supervised by a pharmacist, and that a pharmacist must not supervise more than one pharmacy technician.   More... premium

How the other 'arf lives :: Wendy Morton : 8/6/2010 : Servier's slick removal of its Diamicron 30mg MR from the PBS this month to make way for the simultaneous listing of their latest innovation - wait for it... a SCORED 60mg tablet - was highlighted this week on AusPharm in a thread started by Kristine Hall:

The good folk at Servier, driven as they are by "the medical needs of humankind" promptly contacted AusPharm to enlighten us as to their rationale: "The availability of Diamicron 60mg MR as a scored tablet, removes the need for Diamicron MR 30mg, and it's for this reason Diamicron MR 30mg was discontinued and removed from the PBS, June 1. This was very much in the interests of patients, doctors and pharmacists, considering (that) Diamicron 60mg MR provides patients the opportunity to reduce tablet burden, which may aid compliance."

Reduce tablet burden, eh? Removes the need for the 30mg tablet? Does it? REALLY??   More... premium

The Pad everyone is talking about :: Jason Bratuskins : 1/6/2010 : Apple's newest device, the iPad was released in Australia on Friday, amongst much media flurry. It’s now time for AusPharm to contribute to the flurry.

The iPad is, on first glance, an iPhone on steroids, but castrated with the removal of the phone part. It’s an absolute piece of art, beautifully crafted, a pleasure to use, with some pleasing surprises and notable limitations.   More... premium

Who would want to be a wholesaler? :: PSA National President: Warwick Plunkett : 27/5/2010 : The news that South Africa’s biggest drug maker, Aspen Pharmacare, has made a $707 million takeover bid for Sigma Pharmaceuticals raises a number of issues for pharmacy.

If the bid is successful, the merged company would become Australia's biggest prescription drug supplier, with more than one in 10 scripts potentially filled by an Aspen-Sigma product.   More... premium

Tax and loyalty programs :: Stuart Gardner : 25/5/2010 : Consumer loyalty programs, and in particular their associated tax status have garnered some attention in the press recently.

JR Pharmacy Services Stuart Gardner has sent us a brief article spelling out the rules relating to these programs.

"The Australian Tax Office has previously issued various rulings and determinations to address in which instances the utilisation of rewards points will be assessable, from both an income tax and fringe benefits tax perspective."   More... premium

Pharmacist found with Junkie Lesbian Prostitute Dwarf* :: Bruce Moffat : 18/5/2010 : Or "10 O'clock closing is for sissies"

After so many week's of 'serious' features we thought it time to introduce a litle light relief!

In today's feature Bruce Moffatt recalls the joys of working in an ALL night pharmacy in London in the 1980s.

"It was Peter Allen I think (well it would be wouldn't it?) who lamented the travails of running a late night pharmacy a while back on the 'list.  It's funny but even now after many many years, the conjunction of the words 'night' and 'pharmacy' is still enough to send me into a vortex of whatever it is that you vortex into when you triturate the memory of fear with the delicious romanticism of nostalgia."   More... premium

A new era in pharmacy? :: PSA National President: Warwick Plunkett : 13/5/2010 : The Federal Budget on Tuesday night provided details of the Fifth Community Pharmacy Agreement (5CPA) including the news that the total funding is $15.4 billion over the five years, up from the $11.6 billion in the Fourth Agreement.  Of particular note is that this is an increase of $300 million over the $15.1 billion suggested when early indicative details of 5CPA were released late last year.

This additional $300 million has primarily been allocated to patient-focussed professional programs and was made available after PSA received a receptive hearing by the Minister and the Department of Health over the need for more patient-focussed programs in the Agreement.   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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