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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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A tale of two women :: Nurse Julie : 11/8/2009 : Introducing Nurse Julie, who's got a tale or two of pharmacy from the outside looking in.

"Two women, at opposite ends of their lives, both battling with the concept of care we are kind enough to offer in the Emergency Department.

Woman number one is a young lady of about eighteen who presented late one evening.  She was  tentative, and it took some courage for her to explain to me (and thereby to the waiting room at large, thanks to a remarkable acoustic) that she required the morning after pill."
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Shifting the gears; initiating change :: Frank Morgan : 4/8/2009 : For many pharmacies, these are difficult times. In today's feature, Frank Morgan reminds us all about what you need to do to stand out from the crowd.

Novelist and philosopher Andre Gide once opened a lecture by noting, “All this has been said before, but since nobody listened, it must be said again”.   More... premium

A lot of the hard stuff has already been done for you :: Irwin Lowe : 29/7/2009 : As negotiations for the 5th Community Pharmacy Agreement heat up we thought this piece by Irwin the Evil Chemist worth revisiting - it was first published in August 2004.

Oh, and for those of you who've forgotten, we remind you how Irwin got the 'Evil Chemist' moniker.

"We are very, very fortunate that our industry and profession is (for now) insulated. The resources and institutes that exist to keep us afloat are astonishing: wholesalers willing to guarantee our business; a Guild supporting owners and ownership, and fighting the political fight; the various Societies providing training and continuing education. Most customers forgive us our human failings and even keep their custom with us."
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Don't be a soft target :: : 28/7/2009 : AusPharm monitors reports of pharmacy break-ins and robberies across Australia and it seems to us that, lately, the Gold Coast region has been over-represented in our reports. Qld Guild President Tim Logan told us that it would be "fair to say that, as a region, there have been a few more break-ins than one might expect for the Gold Coast. We continue to encourage members to have a good look at their security, minimise stock and use Project Stop, of course."

Our friends at Guild Insurance have also been in touch and have provided us with advice to help ensure that your pharmacy isn't a good target for burglars.   More... premium

‘Real Time Reporting’ of the dispensing of Schedule 8 substances and alprazolam :: : 21/7/2009 : The most recent examples of media scrutiny of the 'misuse' of Schedule 8 (and some other) drugs (eg here, here and here) occurred less than two weeks ago following the release of a couple of AIHW reports on medication use in Australia (here and here).

In response to the media hype Guild President Kos Sclavos was quoted as saying that the issue could be “addressed overnight” if the Government agreed to implement the Guild’s new program called ControlledDrugRx. AusPharm's understanding is, however, that ControlledDrugRx is still in the very early stages of development.

A Tasmanian government initiative, already up and running as a pilot in four pharmacies, is showing great promise in dealing with schedule 8 medication misuse. In today's feature, Mary Sharpe, Chief Pharmacist, Pharmaceutical Services Branch of the Tasmanian Department of Health and Human Services describes their real time reporting project.   More... premium

Getting the best out of our medical and pharmacy resources- are we really using 747s to deliver the milk? :: Ron Batagol : 14/7/2009 : In today's feature Ron Batagol comments on a recent Radio National Life Matters episode and looks at how society might make best use of pharmacists in an increasingly fiscally challenged health system.

"Just as with the prevailing medical practice models, could it be that our pharmacy practice models are also outmoded and not reflective any more of the training, expertise, and even more importantly, the potential health benefits that the community that could derive from better utilisation of its reservoir of highly-trained pharmacists?"   More... premium

Of petrol and the PBS :: Michael Page : 7/7/2009 : In today's feature, Mike Page has a look at the community pharmacy pricing model, comparing it to that of fuel retailers.

"The taxpayer pays once for petrol but twice for PBS-subsidised medicines; firstly in income taxes and secondly at the pharmacy. One would think therefore, that in contrast with the way the fuel retailers operated in the past, the pricing systems used by pharmacies would be clear, logical, consistent and transparent."   More... premium

Pharmacist employee wages – where to now? :: Michael Scavone : 1/7/2009 : Much has been posted on AusPharmList about this subject matter recently. Last week's AusPharm poll indicated 92% pharmacist employee dissatisfaction with the current system. The poll showed that 49% of employees consider their wages dreadful while 43% consider that wages could be better.

Is anyone surprised by this?  I believe not!

How did the level of pharmacist employee wages fall so far behind compared to other professions and, historically, even within the profession? In my opinion there are two reasons for this. The first is the existence of a very strong employer focused pro business group, the Pharmacy Guild (PGA) and the second is because the organisation charged with representing pharmacist employees, APESMA,  has been relatively ineffectual in the very complex and difficult areas of Industrial Relations (IR).   More... premium

Employee pharmacists' wages and working conditions :: Geoff March, President, Professional Pharmacists Australia : 29/6/2009 : AusPharmList has made fascinating reading in recent weeks as many community pharmacy practitioners struggle with a real sense of frustration around their profession and their own ability to effectively consistently contribute to their patients' health and welfare.

There are two aspects contributing to this frustration; firstly the feeling of a real lack of appreciation of their contribution as evidenced by the angst over remuneration and working conditions; and secondly about the continuing focus on a supply model for community pharmacy and the refusal of the Guild to break free of this “old thinking” practice model.   More... premium

A fair crack of the whip :: Bill Arnold : 28/6/2009 : I remember many many years ago hearing a senior (=old) Guild official admonishing us young agitators by telling us that we did not know all the wondrous things “we have done for you”, and how “you are in a good position (now) because of our (past) hard work”. One of us reminded him that our future was in front of us, his behind him.

That said, I see a troublesome lack of perspective in some of the discussions now taking place, and a brief look at ancient times might be a good thing.   More... premium

Codeine containing products should go to schedule 3 :: Michael Scavone : 2/6/2009 : At its meeting later this month, the National Drugs and Poisons Scheduling Committee will consider proposals to up-schedule codeine containing products from Schedule 2 to Schedule 3. It will also look at a some related issues, including limiting pack size.

No doubt many submissions have been put forward to the committee and there has certainly been much discussion on AusPharmList (eg here) over the years on OTC codeine.    More... premium

How Austin Powers and Ben Folds affect Australian consumer behaviour :: somepharmacyguy : 26/5/2009 : "I just drove to the store for some Preparation H" - Ben Folds, Rocking the Suburbs
"Preparation A to G failed, I call this device Preparation H" - Dr Evil, Austin Powers


somepharmacy guy is back, with a quirky tale on the influence of TV and the Internet.    More... premium

Marketing: replacing inertia with action :: Frank Morgan : 19/5/2009 : Being interested in success is not enough.

Any marketing plan for your business requires total commitment; commitment to spending time, commitment to spending money and commitment to continually grow.

You can all feel the sizzle and excitement of new ideas, but you don’t need to go broke implementing them.    More... premium

Pharmacist prescribing and funding recognition for pharmacists - where's the leadership when we really need it? :: Ron Batagol : 12/5/2009 : In today's AusPharm feature Ron Batagol asks why it is, when optometrists have access to the PBS and nurses look set to follow, that pharmacists are lagging behind?

"In the recent AusPharmList discussion on the issue of prescribing rights for pharmacists (here), participants have, quite correctly in my view, noted that this matter  is one that, if effectively implemented, would represent a shift of quantum proportions in the way that pharmacists carry out their professional activities and, therefore, the issue must to be driven by the peak pharmacy professional organisations working together."    More... premium

Under a bushel: Rob Smallwood - guitar maker :: : 5/5/2009 : Back in February we ran the first of our 'Under a bushel' features exposing the hitherto hidden (photography) talents of David Haworth.

We recently got wind of another 'lister with a special hidden talent and snuck up on him while he wasn't looking.

Rob Smallwood is a NSW south coast pharmacist who makes guitars on the side (or is that a guitar maker who practises pharmacy on the side?).    More... premium

Record Keeping for Tax Purposes :: Ian Wessling : 28/4/2009 : In today's AusPharm feature JR Pharmacy Services' Manager Ian Wessling talks about  some of the things you need to do to keep the tax man happy.

"Is the office space at the pharmacy over flowing with till printouts, invoices and POS Reports? Is it starting to spread to your garage and home office? 

Before you throw it out or start renting short term storage to hold it you need to consider what you are required to hold for tax purposes."    More... premium

The Great Crash of ’08 - Being a discussion of men, money and morality :: John Chapman : 21/4/2009 : In today's feature, Australian College of Pharmacy Practice and Management CEO John Chapman tries to give some meaning to what the Global Financial Crisis might mean for pharmacy.

"Let me say at the outset that I’m not an economist however a long time ago I did study micro and macro economics and that arguably gives me some chance of interpreting the words of experts. What I’ve tried to do for this evening presentation is to gather a range of commentary on the current situation, blend it with some purely academic reading, and, in the process, hopefully produce a result that is both intelligible and helpful to you."    More... premium

What's good enough for remote Australia is good enough for urban Australia :: Andrew Roberts : 7/4/2009 : Nurses have been in the news a lot in recent times. Back in February the mainstream media picked up on one of the ideas floated in the Maternity Services Report, that midwives might perhaps be able to write PBS prescriptions.

Peter Crothers commented in an AusPharmList post earlier this year that nurses also do 'pharmacy' work in at least 50 NSW hospitals.

Today's AusPharm feature begins with comments from pharmacist Patti Placebo on her retirement from pharmacy in 2015. Patti talks about the decision taken by the Rudd government in 2010 to recast pharmacy services across the country to bring them into line with the successful model used in remote Australia. The remote model successfully added a pharmacy role to nursing work.    More... premium

Don’t just stand there, *do* something :: Frank Morgan : 25/3/2009 : Often when I visit retail outlets and talk to staff, I am amazed to find that apart from learning how to use the cash register ... NOTHING …

As the owner or manager of a business you rely for your success or failure on the performance of your team. Possibly, you have invested many hundreds of thousands of dollars in your business. Train your staff as though they write the cheque for your pay ..... because they do.    More... premium

How long is your piece of string? :: Irwin Lowe : 17/3/2009 : Frequently, a foot is what you might want to plant forcefully in the backside of a lazy, non-performing employee.  Non-performing employees who exist in that state for lack of cognitive ability to carry out their – so straightforward that a lobotomised lemur might also be able to accomplish – task are far more deserving of an open-palmed smack to the back of the head.

An open-palmed smack to the front of the head is usually administered to one’s self and typically for reasons of self stupidity where, sadly, there can be nobody else to blame, and perhaps the magnitude of the accomplishment can only be met by such self forehead flagellation.    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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