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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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Growing role for pharmacists in sleep apnoea services :: PSA National President Grant Kardachi : 26/5/2015 : The APP Conference this year shed light of the future direction of some professional services and one of the most interesting presentations was by Rupesh Chudasama of IMS Health who predicted that home sleep studies would provoke large growth in associated professional services over the next few years, with a 75% increase being forecast.

His bullish prediction highlighted the importance that sleep apnoea services are assuming for the Australian community and the role pharmacists have to play in this area.

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia, in conjunction with the Australasian Sleep Association, has developed a document titled, Practice guidelines for the provision of sleep apnoea services within pharmacy.  This work is the result of extensive consultation and collaboration between the two organisations over some time.   More... premium

Other ways to save PBS costs :: Wendy Morton : 12/5/2015 : My workplace was last week blessed with a new doctor starting a three month training rotation on my ward. New residents are always an unknown quantity, and in the week they start, almost have an element of a parlour game to them - will the spinning wheel land on our lucky number and deliver us a prize, a project, or a potato-head? Hmmm... By day 2 he had proven himself the stuff of prizes, and bonus – unwittingly become my AusPharm muse.

Running through my usual orientation spiel, introducing the new doc to resources to assist him in overcoming the habit of routinely writing the letters “PBS” in the quantity column on every script, we got into the intricacies of PBS quantities and remuneration.   More... premium

Pharmacists push for ban on codeine prescribing by GPs for chronic pain :: Peter Crothers : 11/5/2015 : Doctor publication Medical Observer ran a story on Friday (Push for codeine rescheduling to S4) in which it reported that 'addiction specialists are backing a move to upschedule OTC codeine-containing analgesics to S4'.

In today's AusPharm feature, Bourke community pharmacist Peter Crothers has taken the liberty of redrafting the piece as it might be written from the pharmacy perspective.

"Addiction medicine specialists say that making all codeine containing analgesics (CCAs) prescription-only will help with the problem of codeine addiction, but pharmacists are saying that all the evidence suggests it will only make the problem worse, since many GPs manage chronic pain so badly. "   More... premium

Elderly, sick, disabled will feel budget pain :: Andrew Topp : 8/5/2015 : Pharmacists around the country are rallying to protect Australia's most vulnerable patients.

The Coalition Budget Razor Gang have planned a suite of changes to the PBS which will see medication costs skyrocket. While negotiations for the 6th Community Pharmacy Agreement have been progressing well for several months, pharmacists have been blindsided by the sweeping cuts the Government have proposed.

I believe typical pensioner patients may see their annual drug bill treble or quadruple.   More... premium

Paying the penalty :: Justin Lee : 5/5/2015 : It is broadly accepted that the community pharmacist award rate is inadequate and most pharmacists are rightly paid above-award wages. In fact, raising the award rate has been suggested as a strategy by some pharmacy owners to put pressure on discount pharmacies who allegedly pay their pharmacists at, or close to, the award rate. Yet, when it comes to the question of reducing or abolishing penalty rates, the divisions become clearer.

Of course, we all know the position of the representative bodies of pharmacy owners and employee pharmacists even without reading their respective submissions to the Fair Work Commission. While we would expect that our professional organisations represent the interests of their members, the challenge when dealing with issues that have strong vested interests is that partisanship ends up stifling high-quality debate and it merely becomes a case of whose voice is louder or who, if the matter is resolved against their favour, is able to cause the most damage.   More... premium

Money for nothing :: Irwin Lowe : 28/4/2015 : In today's contribution from Irwin Lowe, he talks about what 'counseling' in a pharmacy sense means to him and explains how he ended up on the front page of the Sydney Daily Telegraph in April 2004.

There are moments in your life when you’re innocently going about your business completely oblivious to the goings on of the greater universe around you. You’ve spent years at university, you’ve worked a little, you’ve borrowed the family fortune to purchase a pharmacy, you’re walking down the street to work with your soy latte in hand. The sun is shining and you’re probably even whistling.   More... premium

Beavering away while waiting, waiting for the 6CPA :: Karalyn Huxhagen : 21/4/2015 : Today I will share some of the opportunities that I have explored to maintain an income while awaiting whatever the next community pharmacy agreement delivers.

I have not realised all of these opportunities to their full potential but many pharmacists have been able to make these activities into income streams or, at the very least, used them to increase store customer traffic.

Quality Use of Medicine lectures to aged care facilities

This is a separate payment from providing the medication reviews (RMMRs) for the facility and, as such, can be provided by a different entity than that providing either the packing service or the RMMR service.   More... premium

Pharmacy immunisation safe and effective :: PSA National President Grant Kardachi : 17/4/2015 : It is disappointing to see these ill-informed and misleading statements from United General Practice Australia.

The PSA immunisation training for pharmacists, based on the highly successful models used overseas, minimises risk to patients and seeks to ensure a safe delivery of vaccinations. Pharmacists are all required to hold first aid and CPR certificates and our training goes further to give pharmacists the skills to deal with adverse reactions, particularly  anaphylaxis which may arise as a result of receiving a vaccination. I should point out that in the trial in Queensland there were no significant adverse reactions with the only reported incidents being fainting which was attributed to a fear of injections.   More... premium

Pharmacists have a key role to play in managing patients with asthma :: PSA National President Grant Kardachi : 13/4/2015 : A report in a recent edition of the Medical Journal of Australia raised serious issues about the use of some asthma medications.

The report also notes a trend among some parents not to consult specialists they have been referred to and teenagers ignoring the advice of their GPs. In addition, there were also reports of incorrect dosages being prescribed.

The MJA reported: “Guidelines for asthma management are not being adhered to, and inappropriate prescribing may be putting children at unnecessary risk. There has been a recent increase in deaths, the cause of which is not clear.”   More... premium

I'm Nice... :: Irwin Lowe : 17/3/2015 : In today’s AusPharm feature Irwin Lowe writes about being ‘nice’ and ‘helpful’.

And in a weird example of synchronicity, given recent events, leads us to News Ltd journalist Sue Dunlevy’s first (?) spray against community pharmacy, back in April 2004.

Niceness. I have long believed it is a virtue to be nice to people.  A component of my lifelong personality development. Not an accreditation module although I can understand your confusion, it involved a misspent youth playing dragon-slaying adventure games in outer-space where such values are paragon and worthy of knights of the realm.    More... premium

The five people you meet at a pharmacy trade show (with apologies to Mitch Albom…) :: Wendy Morton : 12/3/2015 : With APP2015 set to get underway on the Gold Coast today Wendy Morton takes a look at the five people you might meet there ....

There’s something about the massive and ubiquitous bowls of assorted sweeties adorning exhibitors stands at conferences that I find vaguely unsettling and tawdry.

Walk into any trade show or exhibitor’s hall at a major conference, the bowls are invariably front and centre. And we all know they are but the thinnest edge of the wedge of enticements for conference attendees to approach an exhibitors stand and – oh my, sharp intake of breath – actually engage in conversation with their representatives!    More... premium

Do pharmacists themselves inhibit practice change? :: Justin Lee : 3/3/2015 : AusPharm is delighted to welcome Justin Lee back for another year as an AusPharm feature writer.

His first contribution for 2015 is a cracker.

We’ve heard it all before. The pharmacy profession needs to change. Pharmacists need to innovate. We need to develop new models of pharmacy practice. Having more pharmacists means we now have the workforce to exploit new opportunities.

To a certain extent, we have seen some practice change in recent years.
   More... premium

Clinical placement funding needed. Implementation of practice change remains a challenge :: PSA National President Grant Kardachi : 24/2/2015 : PSA believes there is a demonstrative need to support clinical training for students in a way that provides a supportive learning environment and also supports the community pharmacy setting in which the placement takes place.

This view is outlined in our position paper on the Sixth Community Pharmacy Agreement in which a number of areas that need to be addressed are examined.  These include the development and implementation of a formalised clinical placements scheme and for structure around practice change.

The paper, Better health outcomes through improved primary care: Optimising pharmacy’s contribution stresses argues that greater emphasis needs to be put on a structured system of clinical placements in community pharmacies.   More... premium

Virus attack! :: Irwin Lowe : 17/2/2015 : Long time 'listers will remember fondly regular feature articles by Irwin 'the evil chemist'. Well, time's moved on and Irwin's lost the 'evil' tag but he remains active as a 'chemist' - sort of.

In any event, we've manged to bribe him into once again putting pen to paper, so to speak. For those of you who aren't familiar with Irwin, here's how he describes himself these days.

"Irwin was born as a baby. As punishment, he was sentenced to 2 decades as a pharmacy proprietor. He worked lengthy if not extraordinary hours, lengthy if not extraordinary days, and lengthy if not extraordinary years. He now spends his days pondering rural life, doing a  little label sticking, and generally taking all the lunch and tea breaks that he missed out on as a proprietor."   More... premium

I spy with my pharmacist eye :: Wendy Morton : 10/2/2015 : AusPharm is thrilled to have lured Wendy Morton back to its cohort of regular feature writers.

Many 'listers will recall Wendy's quirky humour and wry insights from her writings of a few years back. We'd like to thank everyone who has subsequently bailed her up at conferences, CE sessions or social events since to tell her how much you missed reading her pieces - it seems persistence pays!

In today's feature Wendy muses about a disorder likely afflicting us all to greater or lesser extent

I’m tolerably sure any grittiness my eyes experienced as I walked out of my Pharmacy Board registration exam in late 2004 was probably only due to sleep deprivation and the late nights of studying that preceded it.  But it was definitely about that time my vision became affected by what I suspect may prove to be a life-long affliction....   More... premium

Crossroads, speed bumps and dry gullies :: Karalyn Huxhagen : 3/2/2015 : In today's AusPharm feature, 2010 PSA Pharmacist of the Year, Karalyn Huxhagen, argues that pharmacy's future necessarily involves funding services that are performed by pharmacists outside the walls of community pharmacies.


"Like others I have attended many, many conferences, orations and seminars to be told pharmacy is at the ‘crossroads’. I have sat in many forums and government discussions and been told there are ‘pillars of pharmacy programs’.

The list of pharmacy metaphors and glorious orations is endless for this pharmacist who first became active in pharmacy politics back in the 1980s when Joe Riordan was still in charge of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Remuneration Tribunal."   More... premium

Medication errors - are they ADEs or ADRs or side effects? :: Jenny Gowan : 30/1/2015 : There is much confusion in the terminology used to describe medication errors both with respect to dispensing errors as well as the categorisation of medications errors in hospitals and Aged Care Facilities. 

My recent CE activity on AusPharm  (What are the side effects?) attempted to clarify these differences.

The  National Coordinating Council for Medication Error Reporting and Prevention (NCC MERP) also recently proposed new terminology to help healthcare professionals distinguish among Adverse Drug Events (ADEs), Adverse Drug Reactions (ADRs) and Medication Errors. This may further clarify the terms and encourage consistent adoption across medication safety.   More... premium

Remove HMRs and RMMRs from the 6th Agreement :: PSA National President Grant Kardachi : 29/1/2015 : An interesting statistic to emerge for the growing, ageing population is that by the time we reach the age of 65, most of us will be regularly taking five or more medicines.

Added to this are figures from 2010 showing that in that year an estimated 271 million prescriptions were dispensed in Australia and millions more medicines were supplied by pharmacists for minor ailments and similar conditions.

There is no disputing that pharmacists play a key role in ensuring that all Australians have ready access to supplies of their essential medicines, especially those 7 million people with chronic disease.   More... premium

Bush pharmacy and the perils of feral camels :: Greg Turnbull : 15/1/2015 : When Guild National President George Tambassis visited his old university mate Robbo, the remote bush pharmacist – the Guild’s Greg Turnbull tagged along.


Day one was always going to be a hurdle. A rendezvous in Alice Springs, a meeting with the CEO of the Ngaanyatjarra Health Service, then a 924 kilometre drive west, mostly on corrugated dirt roads populated by roaming feral camels. Did he say 924 kilometres? Yep.   More... premium

Pharmacy Remuneration a Total Package :: Kos Sclavos : 6/1/2015 : Each January, while the pharmacy world remains in holiday mode, it is our custom to resurrect the best content from the AusPharm archives.

Today’s contribution is a feature article penned by former Guild President Kos Sclavos just over 10 years ago – in December 2004 - while negotiations were underway for the 4th Community Pharmacy Agreement.

With a few minor edits, it would be just as relevant today as it was then.

“If you read the pharmacy press, one could be forgiven for thinking that there is a choice in the next Guild Government Agreement between paying for professional services or paying for the supply of medications. Some go further to say that separate organizations should be negotiating for those two elements of 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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