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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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Crime and Punishment :: Irwin Lowe : 9/3/2006 : What does it take to get prosecuted around here? The rough digit of the justice system which occasionally points itself my way is so utterly random in its duty’s execution that one wonders why one should bother with doing the right thing; at all or indeed, ever.

The digital surveillance system was the next step and clearly showed him going to the shelves, watching all staff to see that nobody was watching and then pocketing the stuff. 12 cameras, 12 angles. Coin toss time – do I use subtly and tact: “Sorry to bother you, but I think you might have accidentally taken something and forgotten to pay for it” or the direct approach and report it to the police. I decided on the latter as the video showed the clear intent to steal.   More... premium

The Pharmacotherapist :: Michael Page : 1/3/2006 : I had a dream about a pharmacotherapist, a highly-respected, properly utilised resource, practising independently with no direct conflicts of interests…

In his latest feature Michael Page has a look at one kind of pharmacy "specialisation", the idea floated by PSA National Councillor Alison Roberts in last week's AusPharm feature.   More... premium

Specialisation, or an expanding role for pharmacists? :: Alison Roberts : 22/2/2006 : In the latest of our features from PSA National Councillors, PSA Treasurer Alison Roberts addresses the issue of "specialisation".

"The issue of whether pharmacy, particularly community pharmacy, is going down the road of specialisation is one that is increasingly being raised, yet thus far the profession has not engaged in a good debate about the many aspects of this issue. I am attempting to kick it off with this piece on AusPharm!"   More... premium

SOME THOUGHTS ABOUT SUPERVISING AND USING DISPENSARY ASSISTANTS (or "how many pharmacists does it take to change a light bulb?" :: Ron Batagol : 15/2/2006 : "Recently on AusPharmList, the question has arisen again as to how the regulatory authorities and practising pharmacists identify what is a 'safe rate of dispensing'. It seems to me that one important key to streamlining our dispensing operations, and making optimum use of the available qualified pharmacist resources, is the efficient use of properly trained dispensary assistants."   More... premium

Professional isolation; it is up to us all to help overcome this problem :: Karalyn Huxhagen : 6/2/2006 : In the latest of our regular features from PSA National Councillors, departing councilor Karalyn Huxhagen writes about professional isolation.

"For many pharmacists who work in rural or remote areas this isolation occurs because of the distances it is necessary to cover to attend professional education events or even social occasions. But I soon discovered that this professional isolation also occurs in some of our larger cities and in the smaller states for a wealth of reasons."   More... premium

Blast from the past :: Irwin Lowe : 27/1/2006 : "Bob Hawke is Prime Minister, Paul Keating the Federal treasurer. John Howard becomes leader of the Federal opposition. Simon Crean is the head of the ACTU. John Cain’s Labor is re-elected in Victoria and Joan Kirner, Education minister, comes up with a radical plan to overhaul the HSC into the VCE. It doesn’t matter what you’ve achieved, or how many levels of hell you’ve been through – all of a sudden you’re 17 again and, for all intents and purposes, it is 1985."   More... premium

Indications on Prescriptions :: Peter Bayly : 20/1/2006 : "Back in August AusPharmer Peter Bayly posted a note to the list espousing the benefits of adding the indication for a drug to the dispensing label. In today's AusPharm feature Peter expands on this excellent idea, and includes a copy of an extensive "Clinical Indication Directory", developed by UK GP, Dr Nigel Masters".   More... premium

Are you prepared? :: Bill Suen : 12/1/2006 : Monash University's Pharmacy Management (MBA) Program Director Bill Suen was recently elected to the Council of the Victorian Branch of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia. In Bill's new feature he looks at how we might manage some of the operational risks in our pharmacies.

"As the enthusiasm grew in identifying AusPharm Turkeys, many of us did not take the time to suggest a change of packaging and appearance as one obvious way to reduce the risk of dispensing errors."   More... premium

ADVOCACY – THE HIDDEN BENEFIT :: Frank Payne : 20/12/2005 : In a stunning (and serendipitous) demonstration of the truism "timing is everything" AusPharm today publishes the latest article in its regular series from PSA National Councillors. Today, PSA National Vice President Frank Payne describes PSA's advocacy role.

"When anyone asks what are the benefits of membership of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia the usual answer that is given is that one joins in order to gain access to quality continuing education and professional development.....As well as these important benefits of membership, there is another and less obvious advantage in being a member of your professional organisation and that is ADVOCACY......PSA is actively involved in representing the profession of pharmacy to government, industry and the health professions. At a national level, PSA sits on many government committees that deal with health issues, scheduling, drug abuse and other matters."   More... premium

Useless skills :: Irwin Lowe : 13/12/2005 : "I have discovered the long, dark night of the soul. It is a full installation of Windows" writes Irwin the evil chemist.

"The challenge for retail pharmacy in the year 2005 is not in the manufacture of products, for machines can do that. It is not in the reading of prescriptions, because computers can do that. It is not in the labelling of bottles, because a brain dead rat without a bachelor degree can do that. It is not even in the monopoly supply of some substances, because, once commoditised, never again ours; I do not know that we truly understand the forces lined up against us in that respect.    More... premium

Using bad science to justify good ethical behavior? Well, here's a hypothetical to prove that you can run but you can't hide! :: Ron Batagol : 6/12/2005 : In his latest feature Ron looks at the ethical and legal issues surrounding the supply of mifeprostone.

"....I do not wish to re-visit all of the issues surrounding the ECP. However, as I see the various arguments unfold around mifepristone, it is obvious that some people are again relying on the same sort of bad science to justify "good" ethical behavior.   More... premium

SCHER(ING) MADNESS – IN A CONVENIENT PURSE-SIZED PACK!! :: Wendy Morton : 29/11/2005 : Wendy Morton's new feature highlights a mother of a turkey that has the potential for dire consequences indeed.

"For some months I have been waiting with a certain amount of trepidation for a particular lady to walk into a pharmacy where I am working, and this week she did. ........ Who is she, you ask? She is the lady who stuffed up taking her whizz-bang, new, improved Logynon ED® and if I’m not very much mistaken others like her will be coming soon to a pharmacy or obstetrics ward near you."   More... premium

4th agreement signed: where to now? :: Mark Nicholson : 22/11/2005 : Mark is the managing partner of JRs Pharmacy Services. In today's feature Mark looks at the impact of the 4th agreement on pharmacies:

"Pharmacies that want to be customer relevant and financially viable in the future must make a choice - either become a low price / low cost operator (eventually only one winner) or create a differentiated model built around providing healthcare solutions driven from the dispensary prescription traffic. Creating success, however, can only be achieved with the support of proper financial and retail systems, something that has not to date been embraced by the profession (to the detriment of many!)."   More... premium

On being right :: Irwin Lowe : 16/11/2005 : In his latest feature Irwin the evil chemist writes:

"I hate being wrong. I don’t know who likes being wrong, but I’d much rather be right about things, and so I arrange my systems and attitudes towards being correct......I keep a small pile of incorrectly-selected and labelled medications to remind myself of my fallible nature."   More... premium

When it comes to CMIs and other consumer health information - let's K.I.S.S and tell! :: Ron Batagol : 21/10/2005 : "In Great Britain and New Zealand, "user-friendly" simple medicine information sheets have been developed and are being used, and in the U.S.A., new rules will compel drug manufacturers to provide more readable package inserts.

So how come we, in poor old Aussieland, end up being stuck with the medico-legal mumbo-jumbo agreed to by, drug company lawyers, who are clearly fixated with something resembling an anal-retentive passion towards structured wording and format, seemingly designed to confuse and scare the bjesus out of many of our patients/clients at every opportunity!"
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To prevent being an utter prat, ensure correctness of information before action. :: Irwin Lowe : 23/9/2005 : Irwin the evil's latest offering looks at dispensing errors, communication skills, mind reading and more.....

"HOW DARE YOU tell my patient that what I've prescribed is inappropriate? How dare you cause distress to my already distressed pregnant patient? I am sick to death of pharmacists telling my pregnant patients not to take medications based on relative risks. I am an expert in the field. No, the patient has not spun me a story. Don't interrupt me; I am going to have my say."    More... premium

Community pharmacy's alignment with the complementary medicines industry :: Michael Page : 16/9/2005 : Michael Page was a member of the reformation council of the National Australian Pharmacy Students' Association (NAPSA) in 2001 and editor of its national publication, Placebo, from 2002 - 2004. He is intent on seeing pharmacists carve a new professional niche in pharmacotherapeutic services that are vital to healthcare and to the community.

In his first article for AusPharm Michael asks whether pharmacies are doing themselves any favours by stocking alternative therapies.

"It is little wonder that pharmacists are rarely taken seriously by the medical profession as useful contributors to the healthcare team. Any time one of its members walks into a pharmacy (and they do), they are liable to see at least several dozen unproven therapies on offer. The fact that a product was stocked by a pharmacy at one time lent credibility to that product; now, however, the unquestioning acceptance of unproven therapies is causing a gradual but steady erosion of community pharmacy's credibility within healthcare, and this will ultimately lead to the erosion of its credibility in the wider community."

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Alternative medicine for kids - is it a case of caring for kids - or simply suffer little children? :: Ron Batagol : 9/9/2005 : In his latest feature for AusPharm Ron Batagol writes about the criminal injustice being brought upon some children by their parents and emphasises the important educational and advisory role that pharmacists can play in this situation as learned intermediaries.

"From time to time, I read things that make me think that some parents, however well-intentioned, must keep their brains in their boots (or other unmentionable parts of their anatomy), when they make important decisions about the health and welfare of their children!"   More... premium

Closing the Gap between Evidence and Practice in Australia: Key Role for Pharmacists :: Dr Luke Bereznicki : 6/9/2005 : Luke Bereznicki graduated from the Tasmanian School of Pharmacy in 2002 and is an inaugural recipient of a National Institute of Clinical Studies (NICS) PhD Scholarship.

In Luke's first feature article for AusPharm, he writes (with co-authors Dr Shane Jackson and Professor Gregory Peterson) about how pharmacists can help to bridge the gap between what we know (research findings) and what we do (day to day clinical practice).   More... premium

The threat to pharmacy from Galbally :: Graeme Holloway : 25/8/2005 : In the next of our regular features from PSA National Councillors, PSA Tasmanian president Graeme Holloway alerts us to the threat posed by substandard performance from pharmacists in handling requests for pharmacy and pharmacist only medicines.

"It is up to us to deal with these medicines appropriately. They are currently restricted to pharmacy for a reason. It is to make sure that the public are able to obtain the correct medicine with the right professional advice. If evidence shows that this is not happening often enough or appropriately to provide true benefit to the public then they will be lost."   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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