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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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Tamara Filmer - an Australian volunteer pharmacist in Nepal :: Tamara Filmer : 12/11/2013 : I'm Tamara Filmer, Pharmacy Adviser for the Mid-Western Regional Hospital in Nepal. I volunteer for the International Nepal Fellowship (INF), a Christian NGO doing health and development work in Nepal.

I always had a desire to help where help was needed and was prepared to go further afield if that was where I could see the opportunities. In part this is why I chose Pharmacy as a profession because I could see it would be useful.

After four years working in Port Augusta and experiencing life away from our family and friends my husband Leigh and I decided we would approach agencies for work overseas.   More... premium

Changing the status quo :: John Bronger : 7/11/2013 : When explaining the Australian Medical Association’s (AMA) recommendation to GP members that they increase their standard 20-minute consultation fee by $2 to $73 from November this year, and why the government should invest in matching the Medicare rebate, AMA President Steve Hambleton told PM on ABC Radio (16 October): ‘An investment now in primary care will save money down the track.’

I agree with that statement, but for different reasons: investing in community pharmacy and pharmacists to take up some of the primary care pressures being faced by the health budget will do more for the long-term health of Australians than perpetuating the existing system with regular top-ups. Doing the same things will not change the status quo.   More... premium

Debate sparked by Grattan Institute report :: PSA National President Grant Kardachi : 5/11/2013 : A lot has been said over the past weeks in regard to a report by the Grattan Institute which proposes a model for providing access to health services in a number of specified remote areas.

What has excited the pharmacy profession is that the report, from an outside body, proposes what we in the profession have long been advocating - the better utilisation of the skills and knowledge of pharmacists.

The Grattan Institute report clearly states that the many pressures being experienced by doctors could be eased by using pharmacists.  This is not to say we should be doing their work but rather working collaboratively to provide a range of services in a number of rural and remote Medicare Local areas which lack a GP or where GP services are severely limited.   More... premium

Who would make the best leader of the profession? :: Justin Lee : 29/10/2013 : Although numerous prominent pharmacists may come to mind in response to the title question, some of which may have appeared in a similarly-titled recent AusPharm poll, perhaps the more pertinent question is: what type of leader do pharmacists desire?

After all, the person we consider to be the ‘best pharmacist’ may not necessarily be the best person to lead the profession. Consider a sporting team. The best player on the team may not necessarily be the best person to captain the team. In fact, the best person to captain the team may depend on the team’s circumstances; a youthful team may benefit from the stability of an experienced senior player whereas an up-and-coming team intending to challenge the dominance of more established teams may require an energetic captain who is willing to take risks.   More... premium

An Exceptional Pharmacy Leader Stands Down :: Stephen G. Greenwood : 24/10/2013 : After eight years of service as National President of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia Kos Sclavos stepped down on Monday 21 October.

At 49 years of age Kos is a veritable spring chicken when it comes to Pharmacy politics. To underline the fact of his youth, the incoming National President George Tambassis is the same age and yet he is just commencing his reign.   More... premium

Time to take stock :: Executive Director of the Pharmacy Guild: David Quilty : 22/10/2013 : The handing over of the Guild National Presidency from Kos Sclavos to George Tambassis is an opportune time to take stock.

It is indisputable that Kos has achieved a great deal for pharmacy and pharmacists, both during his eight years as the National President and his 19 years in various representative positions with the Guild and other pharmacy organisations.

During his tenure as National President, the Guild has ensured that the core dispensing role of community pharmacies is appropriately remunerated.   This remuneration is now under increasing threat, particularly with the shock changes to price disclosure on the eve of the Federal election being called.   More... premium

Oneness and How to Herd Cats :: Stephen G. Greenwood : 15/10/2013 : When the PSA held its annual Pharmacy Australia Congress last weekend in Brisbane the theme for the event was the remarkably Zen notion of ONE -  ‘One profession, One  focus, One voice’ and if PSA CEO Liesel Wett has her way , One vision. Like the old joke about the Dalai Lama ordering a burger at McDonalds saying “Make me one with everything’, PSA sought to make pharmacy one with everything.

It’s a noble aim I guess and at least recognises that the profession badly needs to mend bridges with the interest groups it represents and deals with in government, industry and the community. The pharmacy profession is in a unique position to offer Government and the community ways of spending the health dollar more efficiently according to the PSA President Grant Kardachi.   More... premium

Schedule 3 codeine :: PSA National President Grant Kardachi : 7/10/2013 : A report, published recently in the International Journal of Pharmacy Practice, found codeine misusers “purchased OTC codeine with virtually no pharmacist interaction, or, the sale was refused with limited discussion”.

That report, titled Opportunities and challenges: over-the-counter codeine supply from pharmacists and codeine consumer perspectives pointed out that “The OTC codeine-dependent participants found it generally easy to access OTC codeine, describing 'standard' questioning, minimal intervention from pharmacists and only occasional refusal to supply.  A better appearance and presentation was generally linked to easy codeine supply.”   More... premium

Individual Flexibility Agreements :: Geoff March, President, Professional Pharmacists Australia : 1/10/2013 : This is my third article exploring the workplace relations instruments that are available to pharmacy employers and employees alike. Previously I have discussed the role of the Pharmacy Industry Award 2010 and enterprise (collective) bargaining. In this article, I describe a third instrument – Individual Flexibility Agreements.

The Pharmacy Industry Award sets out the minimum terms and conditions of employment for employees of community pharmacies across the country. Sometimes these terms and conditions don’t take into account the needs of the employee or the employer and it would be of benefit to both to vary the effect of the award terms.   More... premium

Treatment of Bipolar Affective disorders in Special Populations (Part One) :: Chris Alderman : 26/9/2013 :

Bipolar Affective Disorder (BPAD) is a common but severe form of mental illness that affects many Australians (data suggest that the prevalence in Australia approaches 2%). BPAD can be difficult to treat at the best of times, but is special population groups, the issues become even more complex:

BPAD in children and adolescents

Pharmacotherapy can be a difficult and emotive issue in this age group. There is a lack of applicable clinical trials data, and issues such as drug selection, potentially altered kinetics, and effects of growth progression need to be considered. The use of antidepressants is complicated by conflicting views about potential for increased suicidal behaviour. This is complicated by the fact that children are not emotionally mature and are not necessarily in a position to make decisions about their own treatment.   More... premium

Pharmacy through rose-coloured glasses :: Justin Lee : 20/9/2013 : Pharmacists often blame the proliferation of pharmacy schools and large intake of pharmacy students for creating an oversupply of pharmacists in Australia. This mass-production of pharmacy graduates has even brought about comparisons of universities to ‘sausage factories’.

It could be argued that universities deserve such criticism when the entry requirement for pharmacy in a leading pharmacy school has been lowered to the point where it is harder to get into nursing, engineering and psychology than pharmacy. It says a lot when universities go from attracting the cream of the crop to simply filling enrolment quotas. Yet, universities are businesses just like any other businesses, including pharmacies.   More... premium

What will life be like under the new Coalition Government? :: Executive Director of the Pharmacy Guild: David Quilty : 17/9/2013 : In the last week, the question I’ve been asked most is what will life be like under the new Coalition Government?

This may have a little to do with my previous life in politics, but is much more due to the current very understandable personal interest that pharmacists have in government policy following the shock change to the price disclosure regime just two days before the election was called.

Predicting what an incoming government might do is a combination what they have said on the public record, what their approach was when they were last in power, and pure conjecture.   More... premium

Bone Health and Mental Illness :: Chris Alderman : 12/9/2013 :

People with serious mental illness are commonly affected by a range of serious medical comorbidities that can have a profound impact upon both mental and physical wellbeing.

Indeed, in some cases there is evidence to suggest that people affected by some forms of mental illness are likely to have a life expectancy that may be up to 20 years shorter than peers not affected by mental illness (even after adjusting for premature mortality associated with suicide).

One area of concern relates to bone health, where people affected by serious mental health can be profound.   More... premium

Hay fever can really get up your nose :: John Bell : 12/9/2013 : As 'listers who have been with us for a while will know, each month our friends at Self Care provide us with a copy of John Bell's feature article that runs each month in the Self Care InPHARMation magazine.

The September issue features an article on hay fever.

"It seems we Australians are a sensitive bunch. About 20% of us suffer with some kind of allergic condition – asthma, eczema and allergic rhinitis – but intermittent allergic rhinitis (that is, hay fever) is the most common (this despite the fact that fever is not one of the symptoms and hay is only rarely implicated in the allergic reaction).

Of course, many people suffer from all these allergic conditions. Indeed, asthma and hay fever so frequently occur together that they are often considered just different forms of the one disease.
"   More... premium

The Senate, Stupid :: Stephen G. Greenwood : 5/9/2013 : ‘The economy, stupid’ Bill Clinton famously stated during his election battle with HW Bush to highlight the importance of overcoming the recession of the Bush years during the 1992 presidential campaign. The phrase, originally coined by Clinton’s campaign strategist James Carville, has become an oft quoted line which can be applied to almost any area of political affairs and has even been satirised in the British comedy The Thick of It where one of the characters had written a book entitled It’s the Everything, Stupid.

However, for Pharmacy this election is actually not so much about the economy as both parties will continue to gouge savings out of pharmacists but rather it’s about the Senate. Pharmacists everywhere should put a sign up in their dispensaries entitled ‘The Senate, stupid’ because that is where Pharmacy will have to concentrate all of its political efforts in the next three years.   More... premium

Pharmacists in Primary Care :: PSA National President Grant Kardachi : 3/9/2013 : The election of the Coalition Government at the weekend will certainly bring about changes in many areas but one thing that will not change is the fact that the next Community Pharmacy Agreement, due to come into effect in July 2015, will be pivotal for the pharmacy profession.

The CPAs are the foundation on  which community pharmacy is built, and on which it grows. The Fifth Agreement allocated $15.4 billion over the life of the Agreement for about 5000 community pharmacies for dispensing PBS medicines, providing pharmacy programs and services, and for the Community Services Obligation arrangements with pharmaceutical wholesalers. A commitment to maintaining location rules for approved pharmacies is also provided in the Agreement.   More... premium

Adherence and mental illness (Part two) :: Chris Alderman : 29/8/2013 :

The working WHO definition of adherence - “the extent to which a person's behaviour - taking medication, following a diet, and/or executing lifestyle changes, corresponds with agreed recommendations from a health care provider” is clearly relevant to all clinicians whose work brings them into contact with those affected by mental illness.

Apart from the fact that sub-optimal adherence can reliably be expected to have an adverse impact upon treatment outcomes; there are a range of additional issues that are related to different types of mental illness.   More... premium

Disrespect for Pharmacists Deserves Relegation to the Political Dustbin of History :: Stephen G. Greenwood : 19/8/2013 : The political campaign which the Pharmacy Guild of Australia and the PSA have launched about the Government’s betrayal over price disclosure is not the first time that the profession has been involved in a political campaign during a Federal election and it probably won’t be the last.

Younger pharmacists are used to relative peace between Government and the profession working together as partners. That’s the way the profession always prefers things to be because that is when Pharmacy is treated seriously by Government and is most likely to be involved and paid for being involved in innovative primary health care delivery and professional services.   More... premium

Mobilising the troops :: Justin Lee : 19/8/2013 : Changes to PBS price disclosure arrangements announced by the Federal Government recently are being represented as the biggest modern threat to community pharmacy, and by extension, the pharmacy profession. Following closely on the heels of the ‘Scrap the Cap’ campaign, in the past few weeks pharmacists would have read numerous news articles, received correspondence from each of their professional organisations and been invited to sign petitions via social media.

Despite reported deteriorating working conditions and satisfaction amongst young pharmacists in recent years, in the bigger scheme of things the pharmacy profession has been in a period of relative ‘peace’.  The ‘battles’ between the leaders of our profession and the government of the day would have been occurring behind the scenes with only a few minor altercations making it out into the pharma media.   More... premium

Eroding trust with political expedience :: John Bronger : 15/8/2013 : The Labor Party went for political expedience when it chose to accelerate Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) price disclosure mechanisms to levels that will cause many pharmacies to close and many more to minimise patient services.

But the final result will be far from politically expedient for this government that has breached its Fifth Community Pharmacy Agreement contract and threatened the jobs of thousands of pharmacists and pharmacy assistants, the majority of whom are female.   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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