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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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Government Should Be Careful What It Wishes For :: Stephen G. Greenwood : 13/3/2014 : The Prime Minister recently reminded us that when he was Health Minister in the Howard Government that the Howard Government was the best friend  Medicare ever had. But recent kites flown by his Health Minister, Peter Dutton about the unsustainability of the health system shows that with friends like this Medicare certainly doesn’t need any enemies.

Clearly the Health Minister has been told that long-term savings in Health are the bottom line. Sure, election commitments to not reduce Health funding can still be met simply because we know that the Health budget needs to increase well beyond current funding levels because of the growth in the economy, population growth and the increase in the ageing population. So an increase in co-payments for pharmaceuticals and a fee to visit the doctor seem almost a foregone conclusion.   More... premium

2014: A Game Changer for Community Pharmacy? :: Geoff March, President, Professional Pharmacists Australia : 11/3/2014 : Never before has community pharmacy been faced with more challenges - or had more opportunities - to address the problems it faces.

President of Professional Pharmacists Australia Geoff March explains why 2014 is a make-or-break year for community pharmacy.   More... premium

Anatomy of a Break In :: Veronica Nou : 4/3/2014 : I have read somewhere that pharmacies and bottle shops share the great honour of being number one most targeted stores for burglaries and hold ups. For this reason, my pharmacy has back to base monitoring, blind spot mirrors, panic buttons, and roller shutters. Still, although Colyton isn’t the most exclusive area in Sydney, it is a very tight knit community where people on the street call each other by name. “Hey Gazza! Nice daks mate, how’s the kids?” I felt safe, protected, and slightly complacent. The pharmacy didn’t have CCTV but it was something I was dragging my feet on – after all, the centre had security cameras just outside. It had been over five years since I bought the place, and in addition to not going bankrupt, I had never been held up.

I was however knocked up and with the due date rapidly approaching I finally gave in and went on maternity leave. I spent my days nesting, getting our home ready for our second child. My husband, being a gem, left managing pharmacy elsewhere and came into Colyton full time. I guess you could say it was a time of many changes.   More... premium

Harnessing individual passion for collective action :: John Bronger : 25/2/2014 : I’m very proud of my pharmacist colleagues. The passion shown by them over the past week since the announcement of the capping of medication management review programs is something that gives me optimism and, from a broader perspective, this trumps the pain that triggered their outcry.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m on record for being critical of the circumstances of the Guild’s announcement and concerned about its detrimental impact on pharmacy jobs and income. The news felt like another ‘kick in the guts’ for many reasons.   More... premium

A plea for patient safety - allow clinical pharmacy services to grow :: 2012 PSA Pharmacist of the Year: Deirdre Criddle : 17/2/2014 : Deirdre Criddle is the 2012 PSA Pharmacist of the Year and 2013 AACP Consultant Pharmacist of the Year.


When Charles D Hepler implored pharmacists to “speak the truth to power” and make the dream of pharmaceutical care a reality for every patient – he could never have fathomed that situation now playing out in Australia with clinical pharmacy services. 

Today, we are again faced with the situation where the “truth” about the value of medication review is being denied. Not by politicians, or health bureaucrats or those who could be forgiven for being ignorant of the benefits. Tragically, these deniers come from within our own profession. These deniers and are the custodians of these community and residential aged care clinical pharmacy services. These deniers are pharmacists and they are killing clinical pharmacy services.   More... premium

Why bother? :: Justin Lee : 17/2/2014 : It is heartbreaking to read the frustration, anger and despair expressed through posts on social media about changes to Home Medicines Review and MedsCheck program rules. Pharmacists who have built their livelihood on the provision of these services face a race against the clock to reorganise their career even before the full impact of the proposed changes has sunk in. It is hard to blame pharmacists who have attempted to move beyond the dispensary for being disenfranchised to see themselves taking one step forward and many more backwards.

Many are undoubtedly asking themselves, “Why bother?”. Why bother developing professional services when they are going to be prevented from expanding despite clear, improved patient outcomes? Why bother remaining in a profession that tells pharmacists to venture beyond the four walls of the dispensary, yet is unable itself to unlock the door that leads beyond those walls?   More... premium

Pharmacy can add value :: Executive Director of the Pharmacy Guild: David Quilty : 11/2/2014 : It was interesting to see that 61 per cent of respondents in an AusPharm poll last week believe pharmacy will cop further remuneration cuts in this year’s Federal Budget in May.

That is an understandable but pessimistic view - and it is one that we at the Guild are working hard to prove wrong.

Part of that work was released this week in the form of a Pre-Budget submission which we have lodged with the Treasury, and which has already received some media coverage. This was an unusual step for the Guild to take -  previously the Guild’s focus has been on the five year Community Pharmacy Agreements, which have largely removed community pharmacy from the yearly Budget cycle.   More... premium

Beware Those Bringing Government Problems Not Solutions. :: Stephen G. Greenwood : 4/2/2014 : We've got a great piece from Stephen Greewood today to kick off the year proper.

"It was interesting to note that the Pharmacy Guild is still pursuing its quest to be compensated to the tune of $149 million because of the changes to price disclosure introduced by Labor as a poison pill in the dying days of the second Rudd Government. Lest you think that the boffins at the Guild are dreaming think again. The Guild has the support of over 1 million consumers in its fight to be shielded from more cuts to Pharmacy incomes.

Last year we warned that Tony Abbott’s Commission of Audit could provide the excuse to further attack Pharmacy incomes in 2014 under the guise of the need for cuts across the board to Government expenditure if the budget deficit is to be reined in."   More... premium

So Pharmacy's Boring? :: Veronica Nou : 21/1/2014 : Here's another blast from the past as we gear up for what will no doubt be another eventful pharmacy year.

In this article, originally published in February 2007, Veronica Nou  talks today about how 'boring' life in a community pharmacy can be.

"I was idly perusing my always colourful inbox one day recently, when I noticed one of those ubiquitous chain mails people send me in the mistaken belief I want to be a part of whatever it is they're doing. I do in fact often read the darn things, and read thoroughly, just so I can spend the next five minutes of my life cackling hysterically at someone's unabashed stupidity."   More... premium

Now or never :: PSA National President Grant Kardachi : 17/1/2014 : This year is likely to see increased pressure on pharmacists to more closely examine the way they do business in response to the changing business and professional environments in which we operate.

The growing impetus for such change has been given a boost from a new study which reinforces much of what PSA has been saying over the past few years on the need for practice change.

Commissioned by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, the English report finds the rising demand for GP and emergency services could be reduced if there is a "radical shift" in the role of pharmacists. It also says pharmacists should reinvent themselves as caregivers.   More... premium

Use what we have – before taking more from Australians :: Anthony Tassone : 6/1/2014 : Late December and the New Year can be an interesting time for more reasons than one.  On the eve of Christmas it isn’t unheard of for governments to introduce new policy positioning or encourage public stakeholder feedback from a well-timed story appearing in a major newspaper publication. 

This year has been no exception with two events; an announcement of approval for higher private health insurance premiums prior to Christmas and, the second, the possibility of a patient co-payment (of $6) for attending bulk-billed appointments with the GP as a means of reining in healthcare expenditure under Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS), reduce possible over-servicing and make the public think twice before having their card swiped.   More... premium

No Holden Christmas for pharmacy :: John Bronger : 23/12/2013 : It will be a difficult Christmas for Holden’s workers expecting to join the job queue in 2017, but one that has been made more comfortable with the prospect of a $100m package offered by the Abbott Government.

Not so for people working in community pharmacies.

Considering that “40% of community pharmacies will be unviable or only marginally viable”, according to a recent Pharmacy Guild of Australia media release, by extrapolation there will be about 8000 pharmacists and 12000 pharmacy assistants whose working futures are under threat over the next 12 months.   More... premium

Given the Chance Big Pharma Can Deliver on Innovation, Value and Exports :: Stephen G. Greenwood : 19/12/2013 : One of my first cars was a second hand HR Holden Special. It was called a Special because it had armrests whereas the basic 1967 model had none. Neither the Special or the basic car had a heater which was a problem living in Canberra but it did have brakes- drum brakes- four wheels, an odometer, steering wheel and headlights for driving on well lit roads. It was special all right – an Australian classic at the time. If I had been living in the United States in my car would have had cruise control, air conditioning, and a host of luxury features.

As a kid in the 1960s I used to watch episodes of an American sitcom called Leave it to Beaver. All the refrigerators in these shows had icemakers and water dispensers something manufacturers withheld from their gullible Australian consumers for three decades not for any good reason but the worst reason – because they could. No doubt you have your own examples of how often we have been short-changed by overseas manufacturers.   More... premium

Overtime and Penalty Rates – just what are the facts? :: National President, Professional Pharmacists Australia: Dr Geoff March : 10/12/2013 : Recently Professional Pharmacists of Australia (PPA) Workplace Advice and Support Centre has received a number of calls from pharmacists asking if they are entitled to be paid overtime for overtime worked if they are receiving penalty rates. 

They have told us that their employers are saying they are not entitled to receive overtime payments for extra hours worked if those hours also attract penalty rates.  The simple answer is – the employers are wrong.  Employees are entitled to be paid overtime if the work they have done meets the definition of overtime no matter when it is performed.  They are also entitled to be paid penalty rates if the time they work is during a period that attracts penalty rates.   More... premium

Adherence and oral cancer therapies :: PSA National President Grant Kardachi : 5/12/2013 : Cancer patients are now living longer and so are presenting challenges for the systems and models of care that are currently in use, both here in Australia and in the rest of the world.

The recent FIP conference held in Dublin highlighted this fact in a presentation which stood out at a conference which offered excellent presentations over a wide range of topics.

One session I was particularly impressed with was Managing patients with cancer – The role of the pharmacist, chaired by Dr Ross McKinnon of the Flinders Centre for Cancer Prevention and Control in Adelaide, who also presented on the topic.   More... premium

Me time :: Justin Lee : 2/12/2013 : An AusPharm poll conducted earlier in the year suggested that a large portion of pharmacists were ‘utterly depressed’ about the future of the pharmacy profession. More recently, the University of Technology Sydney Pharmacy Barometer was reported to show that pharmacists are ‘somewhat pessimistic about the future of pharmacy’. Beyond the walls of the pharmacy profession, stories of decreasing consumer confidence, increasing jobless rates, government austerity and job losses in large corporations feature daily in our mass media.

Negativity, even if we are not literally struggling to put food on the table, can have a profound effect on our general well-being. While we all have a role to play in resolving the problems facing the pharmacy profession, it is useful to realise that many of these problems cannot be solved quickly and that, in fact, some of these problems are beyond our direct control. The end of the year presents an opportune time for pharmacists to sit back and reflect on their lives and general well-being.   More... premium

Pharmacy’s Barometer Signals Need for Profession to Reform :: Stephen G. Greenwood : 26/11/2013 : Last week the University of Technology, Sydney Graduate School of Health, under Professor Charlie Benrimoj, released the third of its UTS Pharmacy Barometer surveys* which monitors confidence and opinions of pharmacy owners and employees in the future of Pharmacy.

This year’s survey also focussed on support for minor ailment services. The overwhelming response from this year’s survey, compared to the last two, was a dramatic decline in the profession’s confidence and a rise in uncertainty about the future.   More... premium

Treatment of Bipolar Affective disorders in Special Populations (Part Two) :: Chris Alderman : 21/11/2013 :

As previously outlined, management of BPAD may require specific considerations when dealing with special patient groups. Further examples are provided in this second instalment on the topic.

BPAD and pregnancy

Advanced planning is helpful in the management of BPAD for a woman who plans to become pregnant – this is the case for a variety of reasons.   More... premium

Goodwill Hunting :: Brendan Mahon : 19/11/2013 : Health is often taken for granted until challenged by illness or disease.  This is when we realise how precious life is, and that health is priceless.  But no economy is spared from the realities of globalisation.  Everything has a price, including health, and can be managed as a commodity.

Retail pharmacy for many is viewed as commodity.  All commodities have an intrinsic value that can be dissected and discounted in pursuit of quick and easy profits. But this ultimately devalues the commodity and inhibits future prospects.  The PBS reforms that occurred in April 2012 were the largest single set of price reductions in the history of the PBS, and a clear sign of devaluation of pharmacy services and its importance to the health of Australians.   More... premium

7 day clinical pharmacist coverage is important but what about discharge? :: Jenny Gowan : 12/11/2013 : The study reported in the article above highlights some of the deficiencies in medicines related problems (MRPs) in our health system. However, increased funding and policies also need to be provided for the continuation of care on discharge.

Week after week sitting on Medication Advisory Committees errors are reported due to discharge processes – no documentation, incorrect documentation, no reason for discontinuation of previous medicines (sometimes just missed off the list), inappropriate time for discharge etc. This does not to allow the supply pharmacy to provide medicines safely – if they know what to supply and who has authorised the selection and doses of medicines.   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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