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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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Tough Times Ahead for Pharmacy Unless it Cuts Through Abbott’s Battlelines :: Stephen G. Greenwood : 23/12/2014 : The contentless address that the Prime Minister delivered to the recent Pharmacy Guild Annual Dinner was little more than a politician hoping that flattery would enable him to get through the evening without making any commitments to community pharmacy.

When politicians tell you that they love community pharmacy and that they are committed to pharmacy all the alarm bells should start ringing.   More... premium

Rural and remote health: pharmacists can make a difference :: PSA National President Grant Kardachi : 16/12/2014 : Rural and remote areas of Australia are still suffering from disproportionately low numbers of health services being available to meet the needs of residents living in these communities.

Despite some attempts to address this situation, the reality is that most have failed to make a significant impact. Feedback provided to PSA shows that many rural and remote communities cannot sustain a viable community pharmacy, despite 5th Community Pharmacy Agreement (5CPA) incentives such as the Rural Pharmacy Maintenance Allowance.

There are many factors which combine to accentuate the rural and remote dilemma. Some of these include the fact that rural pharmacies often have a higher cost-to-income ratio than urban pharmacies, due in part to the higher wages needed to attract pharmacists.   More... premium

Disclosure Exposure :: Norman Thurecht : 9/12/2014 : As every pharmacy owner knows, price disclosure has eaten into dispensary profitability big time since first introduced seven years ago. The biggest hit came on 1 October this year, when 'simplified price disclosure' took effect.

In today's feature article, JR Pharmacy Services Norman Thurecht gives his take on what pharmacies need to do to do to manage the impact of the latest hit to their profitability.   More... premium

It’s not all black and white :: Justin Lee : 2/12/2014 : It is quite common, when we get into passionate debate on a topic, for us to take a particular position on the topic and defend that position to the best of our abilities, all while making attempts to discredit the opposing position. Finding common ground becomes difficult because the first person to find some level of agreement is effectively showing signs of weakness in their position. Rather than finding middle ground, parties on both sides of the argument end up moving closer towards the polar ends of the topic.

While we might feel bemused watching such a debate unfold from the sidelines, many of us would find it difficult to behave any differently if put in a similar situation. One contributing factor is the Western-style adversarial process that has formed the basis of our education from a young age.   More... premium

Pharmacy Won’t Be Taken For Granted Again :: Stephen G. Greenwood : 25/11/2014 : In recent weeks the leading lights in Pharmacy have been speculating about why everything is so quiet politically and why their pharmacist membership seem to be somewhat disengaged from the political process.  They are worried the membership may well think that because Peter Dutton has agreed not to change the location rules or the ownership provisions that all is calm; all is bright.

Maybe the G20 meeting in Brisbane completely distracted Government and the public service. That would be understandable. In spite of what some pharmacists think, the Government and its advisers don’t spend every waking moment thinking about pharmacy.   More... premium

Embracing the uncomfortable in changing times :: 2012 PSA Pharmacist of the Year: Deirdre Criddle : 18/11/2014 : When two key opinions leaders, both unashamedly proud pharmacists seem to disagree on something as honourable as “collaboration”, what is our initial reaction? Clearly it makes us uncomfortable. Do we lean in to the discussion and try to unpack why there are these disagreements? Do we actively engage in their challenges, or do we sit back, cherry pick the parts that reinforce our own position and wait to see who has the courage to enter into next into the foray?

Isn’t it time we unpacked some of our beliefs in this rapidly changing landscape? If all roads lead to Rome, and Rome is better patient care, perhaps it is time for us to re-evaluate our roles and responsibilities and how, when and where we pharmacists are “allowed” to provide care? How can our interpretation of collaboration provoke such passionate responses and seeming differences? Do our definitions of collaboration deserve closer scrutiny?   More... premium

It’s time to fix our internship system :: PPA CEO, Chris Walton : 11/11/2014 : The intern year in pharmacy is designed to provide students with professional work experience, so that they are work-ready by the time they graduate. In fact, the idea of pharmacy’s compulsory internship year should be the envy of many other professions.

However, rather than providing an instructive first step in a career in pharmacy, an increasing number of young pharmacists are reporting a year dogged by unexpected problems, that interfere with them gaining the professional work experience that they need and want.   More... premium

Pharmacists and medical cannabis :: PSA National President Grant Kardachi : 4/11/2014 : Medical cannabis is creating a lot of media attention at present, with more and more global jurisdictions relaxing controls over the availability of the drug, or legalising it outright for some uses.

How pharmacists fit into this debate is also coming under scrutiny, with Italy announcing it will grow cannabis for medical purposes in military controlled laboratories, and distribute it through pharmacies.

Australia is seeing growing public support for medical cannabis and a recent Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Survey showed 69% of people supported legislation allowing the medical use of cannabis, while 74% of people backed more research into the issue.   More... premium

Discover More: Peace In Our Time :: Stephen G. Greenwood : 28/10/2014 : Recently the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission tipped a bucket on Coles in a 70 page document lodged with the Federal Court alleging that the retail giant engaged in unconscionable conduct in the way it treated its suppliers. According to the press reports of the case, it is alleged that Coles ‘forced suppliers to plug gaps in its profits and pay for wastage in its stores’ even if suppliers had no control over such matters.

So, why should pharmacists be at all interested in this case given that Coles don’t have power over pharmacy supplies?   More... premium

Australia’s pharmacy culture :: Justin Lee : 14/10/2014 : I recently returned from a three-week family holiday in South Korea, Japan and Malaysia. Unlike many pharmacists on this forum who take an active interest in pharmacies overseas, I generally ignore pharmacies unless I need to actually purchase something from them (usually antimicrobial hand gel). On this particular trip, I was forced to search for, and patronise, a few pharmacies in Seoul, South Korea because a family member forgot to bring one of their medicines.

South Korea and Japan have advanced healthcare systems and regulate the availability of medicines in a similar way to Australia (i.e. most medicines for chronic conditions require a prescription). Contrast this with a country such as Malaysia where regulations are virtually non-existent—you could walk into most pharmacies and purchase what would normally be considered scheduled medicines over-the-counter.   More... premium

New guide to providing pharmacy services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people :: PSA National President Grant Kardachi : 9/10/2014 : PSA is committed to promoting quality use of medicines in all communities, including in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

To meet this need, PSA recognises the need to improve the awareness and understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and cultural issues amongst pharmacists and pharmacy staff.

To help achieve this, PSA has launched a new publication - PSA’s Guide to providing pharmacy services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people - which details how pharmacists and pharmacy staff should seek cultural training and should continuously self-reflect on their interactions with peoples of different cultures.   More... premium

Medication management is a core, not clerical pharmacy service :: Gerard Stevens AM : 30/9/2014 : In my primary community pharmacy, Metropolitan Pharmacy Services, which is connected to Webstercare’s head office in Leichhardt NSW, we use the MedsPro system and Webstercare’s Robot. Your readers may be interested to know the result of a report I recently asked for about the past five weeks of operation. During that time we packed 574,000 medication doses using MedsPro and our robot, and had no corrections.

Every dose of every blister in every pack is confirmed against a hard copy profile to ensure what is packed is what has been ordered by the doctor. That is, the system and the people operating it didn’t even pick up a correction requiring attention before sending out the packs. I don’t talk in terms of errors because our packing staff are trained to follow the system, its processes and packing guidelines accurately and to the letter. When you do that, there should never be a medication error leaving your pharmacy. That’s what our customers expect and trust from us.   More... premium

Dutton’s Realpolitik Gives Pharmacy Certainty and Restores Trust :: Stephen G. Greenwood : 23/9/2014 : “Nobody's convinced us of the need for Coles and Woolies to run pharmacy and we've said very specifically at the last election and since then that we want to make sure that pharmacy - the pharmacy location rules and the pharmacy ownership rules don't change and that's the basis upon which we enter these negotiations’. Peter Dutton ABC Lateline 8 September 2014

It’s taken over a year for the Minister for Health Peter Dutton to find his pharmacy voice but when he did you could hear most pharmacists heaving a sigh of relief. And well they might because yesterday (22 September) saw the release of the long awaited findings of the Harper Review into competition policy.   More... premium

Pharmacies in GP practices :: PSA National President Grant Kardachi : 9/9/2014 : The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) and the Australian Medical Association (AMA) recently announced a collaborative project to further develop a model where a pharmacist works in a GP practice.

As part of this work, both the AMA and PSA have surveyed our respective members for their views on this model of practice and how it should look.

Of course, this model is not new and what we are looking to do is adapt and build on what is already the very successful practice utilised in most hospitals which features an integrated team approach centred on collaborative work between the clinical pharmacists, doctors, nursing and allied health staff. We are looking to reflect that model into the community setting; to mirror the success of the hospital system more broadly.   More... premium

Location rules exist for good reason – if you’re a Guild pharmacist :: Terry Barnes : 2/9/2014 : In AusPharm on 19 August, the Grumpy Old Man of Australian pharmacy, former Pharmacy Guild Executive Director Stephen Greenwood, gave a history lesson on the pharmacy location rules.

“Let’s hope Minister Peter Dutton realises that in the existing pharmacy network, he is holding a pearl of great price which is underpinned in the national interest by location rules”, Mr Greenwood concluded, arguing that should the location rules disappear, “we would see pharmacy distribution determined by pharmacy profits rather than by the need for the community to have equal access across Australia to the PBS and local pharmacy of their choice”.   More... premium

Pharmacy Location Rules Exist for Good Reason :: Stephen G. Greenwood : 18/8/2014 : In recent weeks we have seen a number of influential figures in official pharmacy musing about whether the existing pharmacy location rules are under threat. Pharmacy officials never speak this way unless change is imminent or threatened.

The Guild’s National President George Tambassis expressed his concern that some pharmacists are gaming the system especially those seeking to apply for new pharmacies in medical centres. Apparently some pharmacists are seeking to undermine the location rules by using the Ministerial discretion provisions as a right of appeal.   More... premium

Price promotion of medicines may be unethical and increases the risk and danger of adverse effects :: PSA National President Grant Kardachi : 12/8/2014 : The issue of banner groups and the way they do business is one that raises concerns with many pharmacists who find it hard to come to grips with the aggressive marketing and sales tactics which often characterise these groups, particularly in regard to medicines.

At the heart of the issue is the practice of banner groups to put a heavy emphasis on price promotion. In addition, ‘bin specials’ of products such as paracetamol, combined with other incentives to lure customers into the stores, do not sit well with the principles of the Quality Use of Medicines which are the driver for the pharmacy profession as a whole.   More... premium

At the heart of what we do :: Gerard Stevens AM : 5/8/2014 : I had a recent experience that put into perspective and reminded me why I love doing what I do as a pharmacist. Let me set the scene.

While on this year’s PSA Refresher Course to the United States, I took the opportunity to meet with a new US-based pharmacy customer to help them implement the Webster-pak system. The pharmacy manager told me the story of his first Webster-pak customer.

She was an elderly lady (let’s call her Ms Smith) who was having trouble lowering her high blood pressure despite being convinced that she was taking her medication as prescribed by her doctor.   More... premium

What does the future hold :: Norman Thurecht : 30/7/2014 : In today's AusPharm feature JR Pharmacy's Norman Thurecht warns that the impact of price disclosure on a pharmacy's bottom line has only just begun to bite.

He emphasises the need for pharmacy owners to take a very close look at what the impact will be over the ensuing two or three years and to put in place concrete plans to deal with the loss of dispensary income.

'It is important to firstly understand that the impact of price disclosure has only just started. This means pharmacy owners should be planning for at least a further $1.50 per script loss over next 18 months.'   More... premium

The illusion of adding value :: Justin Lee : 22/7/2014 : Dilbert happens to be one of my favourite comic strips, primarily because the author manages to create humorous but strikingly accurate caricatures of everyday workplace interactions. Much amusement can be obtained from observing the irony of various interactions in daily life. It is somewhat like listening to Alanis Morissette’s famous song ‘Ironic’, which in itself is ironic because the scenarios in the song are not examples of irony at all (Google ‘Alanis Morissette ironic irony’—there is even a parody of the song that modifies / fixes the lyrics of the song to make it truly ironic).

The chosen strip depicts a scene many people who have been (or are being) managed by a micro-manager may have experienced.   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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