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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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Competition is good, yes? Well maybe! :: Ron Batagol : 10/3/2009 : Isn't it funny how, as you travel through the highways and byways of life, something you've read, heard or seen - a piece of literature, prose or even a TV show, seems to crystallise into a prophetic commentary on life in general, or at least on specific aspects of the social fabric that inextricably binds us together as a community.

Two of the most powerful and abiding images of 2008 have got to be, firstly, at the start of the world financial meltdown, the top financial gurus of Wall Street, hastily leaving the city with bulging briefcases , in chauffeured limousines.  Then, some weeks later, the heads of the major auto manufacturers arriving in their private jets, to meet with the U.S.Congress and beg for billions of taxpayer dollars to enable their companies to survive!    More... premium

Under a bushel: David Haworth, photographer :: : 17/2/2009 : After the 'serious' nature of our features over the last few weeks we thought that this week would be a good time to run with something a little lighter.

In the first of what will be occasional contributions from 'listers with talents outside pharmacy, David Haworth tells us about his other passion. (Thanks to Peter Allen for asking the questions.)

We've included some thumbnails of David's work. Click any of these to link to the full sized versions on his website.    More... premium

Promotion of ‘discounted’ medicines :: Michael Scavone : 10/2/2009 : Not one pharmacist I know enjoys having one of their customers hand them a leaflet promoting heavily discounted medicines, often sold substantially lower than their regular wholesale price.

Why does this practice go on, supposedly unchecked and accepted because it is ‘legal’?    More... premium

Time to scrap to RMMR referral process? :: Michael Page : 1/2/2009 : A New South Wales general practitioner commented recently in a popular medical magazine on the usefulness of uniform facility-initiated medication reviews (Residential Medication Management Reviews, or RMMRs) provided by pharmacists.

He considered that these reviews often “misrepresent data on adverse reactions and ignore any benefit-risk decision considered by the prescriber”. Perhaps more disappointingly, he goes on to state that he “generally ignores the pharmacist’s review rather than… agreeing with the obvious, or arguing against the irrelevant”.

This is one man’s opinion and it may or may not be widely held, although it may be so that pharmacists have heard similar complaints from different doctors.    More... premium

The Private Practitioner Pharmacist - A Third Career Path :: John Gibson : 27/1/2009 : In the first of our features for 2009, former Pharmaceutical Council of Western Australia member, John Gibson, says it is time for a third career pathway to  be developed for pharmacists.

"The National Primary Health Care Strategy currently being developed by the Federal Government offers an unequalled opportunity for pharmacists to be recognised as key primary health care providers, along with physiotherapists, occupational therapists and other allied health practitioners, and to receive payment for same."

However, according to John, not all industry players are on side.

"If the [Pharmacy] Guild maintains its traditional resistance to the provision of services outside the control of the community pharmacy during the development of the National Primary Health Care Strategy, it may well destroy a once in a generation opportunity to move pharmacy forward to a new level of professionalism and cripple the chance for thousands of pharmacy graduates to fully utilise the skills that they have developed during their training."    More... premium

Forged and altered scripts: how we detect and handle them :: Curtis Ruhnau : 20/1/2009 : With all the talk on AusPharmList recently about forged scripts, we thought it might be good to republish Curtis Ruhnau's excellent artilce from January, 2007.

As a special treat for our non premium members (so that you can see what you're missing out on!), we've made it available to ALL registered AusPharm members (not just premium members) for THE NEXT WEEK ONLY (until 27/1/09). Read on.....


So, what helps us to detect forgeries? It can be many things, but it seems that like so many things in this life - if it looks crook, it probably is. Our folder has quite a few examples of what has been done to try to get us to dispense scripts which have been forged or altered, but some of the 'triggers' which arouse our suspicion are......    More... premium

Weight loss in the pharmacy :: Stuart Adams : 12/1/2009 : AusPharm first published this article from nutritionist Stuart Adams back in October 2007. We thought you might like another look at it in the light of  David Gillespie's comments  questioning the efficacy of weight loss shakes, published in Crikey last week.

As a special treat for our non-premium members (so you can see what you're missing by not taking out a premium subscription to AusPharm) we've made it available to you too for this week only (until 20/1/09). Read on.....


"When pharmacists abuse their positions as trusted health care professionals to use their pharmacies as vehicles to push faddish weight loss schemes, one has to seriously question the validity of the pharmacy as a reliable source of information on weight loss or anything nutrition related."    More... premium

Unexpected Consequences :: Irwin Lowe : 8/1/2009 : AusPharm won't have any new feature articles for you until February but, in the meantime, we thought you might enjoy taking another look at one of our most popular articles, first published in August 2007. 

As a special treat for our non-premium members (so you can see what you're missing by not taking out a premium subscription to AusPharm) we've made it available to you too for this week only (until 13/1/09). Read on.....


"I distinctly remember back to my undergraduate days when Professor Raymond exhorted us to get out there and talk to patients. Being the '80s, pharmacists were desperately trying to shake off the "chemist" image and become more professional. After a goodly number of lectures of this, I thought (as a final year* student might think) that one particular Friday night dispensing an old lady's Amoxil® would be as good a time as any to practise."

* A final year student in those days was third year, Standard Temperature was 20 degrees, and eccentrics taught university instead of being injected with anti-psychotics.    More... premium

Workload Watchdog - Whose Responsibility? :: Michael Scavone : 11/12/2008 : Following Ron Batagol's spirited quest to bring the profession's "sausage factories" to account, and David Brown of Guild Insurance's recent response to same, pharmacy consultant Michael Scavone in our AusPharm feature article today wonders whether the role of "watchdog" in this instance is being shouldered quite as broadly as it should...

"To this point, I have seen little evidence of pharmacy organisations and government working together to arrive at sensible solutions with well defined outcomes addressing the issue of excessive workloads.

Which organisations are responsible for ensuring high standard practice and reducing excessive workloads? Do they work well together?"    More... premium

In space, no one would hear them scream... :: Irwin Lowe : 4/12/2008 : Trying the patience this week of our resident saint, Irwin The Evil Chemist, are screaming kids and the folk what begat them. Read more in his Feature article today:

"Well-behaved children are such a blessing that there must be something biblical and possibly divorced from reality about it, because the antithesis is more often seen in my shop.  Like the parent who each time brings her two little darlings into the shop.  As piranha would devour a mob of cattle, they separate and start playing with stock, displays, water bubblers, sanity, and invariably conclude by demanding jelly beans.  A previous time that this occurred, they didn’t demand, they just took, and this ended up with me requesting payment for said jelly beans, parents refusing to pay, me threatening to call police, and they threatening to kill me.

I kid you not."    More... premium

A way forward to obtain professional services fees? :: Michael Scavone : 27/11/2008 : In today's AusPharm feature, Michael Scavone, puts a case for using the projected PBS savings recently identified to fund pharmacist primary care initiatives, such as the Know your numbers campaign, due to roll out in Queensland in 2009.

"The time has surely come for pharmacists to be assigned a Medicare type Item Number for a unique professional service that falls outside the scope of dispensing and supplying a drug.

Every time the pharmacist conducts a BP measurement (and mini HMR), interview or consultation could not a Medicare fee, properly costed, be submitted for payment in the same manner that doctors and many other healthcare professionals do now?"
   More... premium

Insurance to close the sausage factories? It's worth a try! :: Ron Batagol : 20/11/2008 : Ron Batagol returns with a new feature article and a fresh strategy to combat the proliferation of high volume dispensing environments:

"I propose the Professional Indemnity Insurer - as a pre-condition, and, therefore, before accepting a proposal or renewal from a pharmacist for Professional Indemnity - require pharmacists to sign a declaration of compliance with the established professional standards for dispensing prescriptions and counselling patients about their medications.  They would also be required to declare that, within their dispensing environment, they will make every endeavour to minimise known risk factors for potential dispensing errors as listed on the declaration, which need to be clearly identified and agreed upon by the profession."    More... premium

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Responsible Citizenship, or a RUM deal? :: Wendy Morton : 13/11/2008 : Following on from Peter's Pearl this week, Wendy Morton explores the challenges pharmacists face in balancing the global imperative to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle with our Quality Use of Medicines responsibilities...

"Of course we all want to be good citizens, so at home, green grocery bags ever poised for some shopping action, we switch off lights in rooms we aren't using, screech at children to switch off electronic devices not in immediate use, diligently collect up our newspapers, cardboard, glass, aluminium cans, steel cans, plakky bottles, milk cartons & ensure their specially designated bin has its butt kerbside for recyclable collection day. With the advent of eBay and initiatives like freecycle, it is easy to cultivate the mindset that NOTHING should be thrown away.

Then... we toddle off to work."
   More... premium

Pharmacy Needs to Develop a Vision :: Dr Luke Bereznicki : 6/11/2008 : Luke Bereznicki has packed a lot of achievement into a relatively short career in pharmacy, including becoming the 2008 PSA Young Pharmacist of the Year. His thoughts on the future of our profession make very interesting reading...

"I simply don't believe independent or 'specialist' pharmacy practice is in any way detrimental to community pharmacies. In fact, I feel it would provide us with an avenue to evolve as a profession, and benefit us all. Whether or not the superclinics go ahead remains an open question. However, the way in which this debate occurred within our profession, I believe, only demonstrated to the public, other health professionals and ourselves our lack of preparedness and vision."    More... premium

Life in and out of the pharmacy :: somepharmacyguy : 29/10/2008 : somepharmacyguy is back, this time having a look at some of the more challenging customer/pharmacist encounters....

"Retail pharmacy being the business that it is the pharmacist is often required to smile graciously through some of the most vitriolic abuse imaginable. Whether it's an attack on the individual, individual's appearance, the business, or one's skill as a professional, there's few topics that are sacred when a customer launches into a purple-faced spittle-dispensing rant over what is usually the most minor of issues."    More... premium

Improving access to Home Medicine Reviews (HMRs) in remote Aboriginal Communities :: Cathy Larkin : 16/10/2008 : In today's AusPharm feature, we publish the third and final instalment of our 'HMRs in remote areas' series. This is another article on services in
the bush arranged for us by Andrew Roberts - thanks Robbo.

Kathy Larkin is an accredited pharmacist with experience working in the remote Kimberly are of Western Australia.

"Modification is required to the current HMR process before it will be viewed as a workable and useful process for clinicians and clients in remote Aboriginal communities.  Below are suggested opportunities for modifications.  These comments are based on my experiences as a remote area pharmacist working in the Kimberley."    More... premium

Can I claim a tax deduction for my car? :: Stuart Gardner : 9/10/2008 : Pharmacists are often unclear about whether or not they can claim a tax deduction for their work related motor vehicle expenses.

In today's AusPharm feature JR Pharmacy Services Senior Manager Stuart Gardner takes a look at this in a number of pharmacy employment situations.    More... premium

C'mon....give us *all* a break :: Wendy Morton : 29/9/2008 : "Some AusPharm polls are interesting, some entertaining, but this latest one on lunch breaks – yowzers! It’s downright scary."

So writes Wendy Morton in today's feature, which takes a close look at pharmacists' custom of working lengthy shifts without taking a break.    More... premium

Drug marketing and drug education are two different things. Don't confuse the two! :: Ron Batagol : 25/9/2008 : Following a link from the AusPharm In the News section recently, I read a Sydney Morning Herald report of an interesting survey by Choice Magazine.

You remember the one, Drug Companies have a "major influence" on what doctors prescribe.    More... premium

What have pharmacists got to do with pharmacy medicines? :: David Tilbury : 18/9/2008 : Throughout Australia, medicines that contain substances listed in Schedule 2 of the Poisons Schedule may only be sold by pharmacists (and some other health professionals).  What special requirements exist for pharmacists when selling these “pharmacy medicines”?

Unfortunately, there is no single answer for readers across Australia says Cropper Parkhill solicitor David Tilbury in today's AusPharm feature.

"It depends on your state or territory, and it appears that there is considerable disparity between the jurisdictions in the manner in which S2s are treated"    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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