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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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Time to fight :: PSA National President Grant Kardachi : 13/8/2013 : The fallout from the Government’s ill-conceived plan to accelerate price disclosure - without compensating pharmacy for the threat to its viability - continues to gain momentum as the reality sets in that this move will cost  jobs and may even force some pharmacies  to close their doors forever.

How this fits in with the Government’s health reform agenda which purports to aim to provide better and more effective heath services for all Australians, is one of the baffling aspects of this whole sorry business.   More... premium

Understanding the Industrial Relations System: Just Who Can Apply to Vary the Pharmacy Industry Award? :: Geoff March, President, Professional Pharmacists Australia : 6/8/2013 : In this second article on the industrial relation system that governs pharmacy, I’ll address the question “Just who can apply to vary the Pharmacy Industry Award?”

As you will see, the answer is relatively simple but the process is both complex and rule and precedent driven.   More... premium

Mens sana: Adherence and mental illness (Part one) :: Chris Alderman : 1/8/2013 :

The World Health Organisation has adopted a working definition to describe adherence to long-term therapy as being “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.”

Achieving an optimal standard of adherence is critical to the attainment of good treatment outcomes for a wide range of disease states, and in particular in the area of mental illness. Although pharmacists naturally focus upon the importance of adherence in the context of drug treatment, there is clearly a range of areas in which people affected by mental illness stand to gain benefits from adherence to medical recommendations – these might include smoking cessation, diet and weight loss, exercise interventions and the adoption of psychological strategies such as relaxation and medication.   More... premium

Sorry, no pharmacy glumness and no talk about the upcoming Federal election today! :: Executive Director of the Pharmacy Guild: David Quilty : 30/7/2013 : \"\"Instead I want to tell the uplifting story of a relatively new, relatively young, female pharmacy owner who has transformed her business by being smart, strategic and in tune with her staff, her customers and her fellow health professionals.

Her name is Amanda Bryce and she owns the Gerald Burns Pharmacy in Bicton in Western Australia.   She may be known to some AusPharm readers as she is this year’s Pharmacy of the Year Excellence in Business Management winner, but that is not why I am moved to tell her story.   More... premium

Has Community Pharmacy benefitted from National Competition Policy? The Mahony Plan :: Patrick Mahony : 25/7/2013 : Patrick Mahony is a long time community pharmacy owner - he's owned pharmacies in rural Australia since the 1980s. During his proferssional career hs's been a Pharmacy Guild NSW Branch Committee member, a member of the NSW Pharmacy Board and one of the small group who first made 'rural' pharmacy a (pharmaco)political issue.

In today's AusPharm feature Patrick gives us his take of the current state of play in community pharmacy and provides some food for thought on where it needs to go next.

"Has community pharmacy benefitted from National Competition Policy? I have been pondering this question for some weeks now. This was brought on by attending the NSW Guild President’s breakfast meeting at the recent National Convention and Exhibition in Sydney and by many comments on AusPharmList regarding pharmacist numbers, graduates, overseas trained pharmacists and, of course, the suggested changes to the pharmacist award."   More... premium

WhatíSOL the fuss about? :: Justin Lee : 23/7/2013 : The announcement by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship that pharmacists will be removed (again) from the Skilled Occupation List (SOL) from 1 July 2013 appears to have received the tick of approval from the pharmacy profession. The thought of reducing the intake of pharmacists by an already oversupplied profession is considered a logical move in the right direction. However, does this decision actually change anything?

It helps to know what the SOL is and how it works in practice. In simple terms, if a non-Australian intends to work in Australia as a pharmacist, they need to have the appropriate visa. For the purpose of this article, the two visas of relevance are skilled migration visas that afford permanent residence to the applicant and working visas that only allow the applicant to stay in Australia for a period of time (unless renewed or a different visa is granted).   More... premium

Ramadan, drug treatment and psychiatry :: Chris Alderman : 18/7/2013 :

Although not specific to the management of mental illness, drug treatment during the Ramadan period may be an issue that pharmacists could be called upon to provide advice.

In 2013 the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, during which Muslims fast from just before sunrise to sunset each day, begins from July 9th and continues for one month.   More... premium

Can Rudd Win and Whatís It Mean for Pharmacy? :: Stephen G. Greenwood : 16/7/2013 : If the political events that recently occurred in Australia had taken place in any other Western democracy we would all be writing such a place off as a ‘Banana Republic’. But occur they did ending internal chaos within Labor and turning a certain win for the Coalition into a contestable election.

With the newly legitimised recycled Prime Minister acting as if the last three years never happened, Kevin Rudd’s assumed rightful place in history was restored. Now he wants a ‘fair go’ for the full second term he never had.   More... premium

Keeping well whilst getting older :: John Bell : 11/7/2013 : 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 July issue features an article on ageing.

"The prime objective of the Council on the Ageing (COTA) is to promote, improve and protect the circumstances and wellbeing of older people in Australia.

COTA claims to be the voice of seniors over the age of 50; although in the 21st century most 50 year olds wouldn’t consider themselves old or even ageing. Regardless of our own age, we generally think of someone else as being old if they’re about 10 years older than we are."   More... premium

This is the time for the pharmacy profession :: PSA National President Grant Kardachi : 9/7/2013 : The question of salary scales for pharmacists is one which has long vexed the profession, and one which we have to address to ensure we maintain the standards of excellence which are a feature of pharmacy in this country.

The issue is that in the main, pharmacists are not paid adequate remuneration that recognises their years of study, their skills and their responsibility.

In fact, disconcertingly it would seem pharmacists’ salaries are actually going backwards.   More... premium

Debate needed on proposed pharmacy industry award changes :: National President, Professional Pharmacists Australia: Dr Geoff March : 3/7/2013 : Sometimes changes that could have a significant impact on the pharmacists working in community pharmacy aren’t as widely discussed and debated as they should be. An instance of that is happening right now.

The Pharmacy Guild and Professional Pharmacists Australia are scheduled to appear in the Fair Work Commission on 26 July to make final submissions on proposed changes to the Pharmacy Industry Award being put forward by the Guild. Unfortunately, a vast number of the people who will be affected by this are not aware that this is happening - and what it might mean for them in their working lives.   More... premium

Satisfying the emotional needs of pharmacy customers :: Executive Director of the Pharmacy Guild: David Quilty : 27/6/2013 : Last weekend I had the pleasure to spend time at the Guild’s NSW Convention and Exhibition at Darling Harbour.

It was an opportunity to network with Guild members and pharmacy stakeholders and gain a better understanding of the challenges they face in a tough business climate with the prospect of price disclosure putting increasing pressure on dispensary margins.

What I have found is a yearning for certainty and stability along with a quiet determination to weather this looming storm by uniting as an industry.  The need to remind the Australian public and politicians about the critical role of community pharmacy is seen as key to achieving a viability-securing outcome in the next Community Pharmacy Agreement.   More... premium

Collaborating on a cure for professional bewilderment :: John Bronger : 25/6/2013 : Pharmacy is an ‘Age of Bewilderment’. That’s how I described the current pessimism running through the profession at the recent Pharmaceutical Society of Australia NSW Expo. Pharmacists are bewildered at the current state of their profession and frustrated at a perceived lack of action or advocacy from their leaders.

They fear that their professional capabilities, developed over years of study and clinical experience, are no longer valued and this is reinforced by the flat pay rates. They fear that the pharmacies they work in are so financially challenged that they are unable to meet their pay expectations and in danger of joining the increasing number of failed pharmacies.   More... premium

Management of alcohol use disorders (Part two) :: Chris Alderman : 17/6/2013 :

This article follows on from Management of alcohol use disorders (Part one)  , published at the end of April.

Various instruments have been developed to assist in the process of screening for risky alcohol consumption patterns and to facilitate appropriate interventions in various settings. One widely used tool is called the AUDIT (Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test), which is thought to be one of the most sensitive of the currently available screening instruments. Supplementary information might be gathered in the form of tests for end organ damage – e.g. elevated liver function tests.    More... premium

Pharmacy Needs to Have a Seminal Role in Childhood Immunisation Policy :: Stephen G. Greenwood : 13/6/2013 : The news from the National Health Performance Authority in April 2013 that more than 70,000 Australian children are not fully immunised should alarm the Federal and State Governments and all health professionals throughout Australia.

While the World Health Organisation considers that vaccination and immunisation programs are an ‘integral part of communicable disease control’ it has become obvious that new approaches are needed to ensure that Australia’s children are immunised and that existing childhood health policies deliver much better outcomes.   More... premium

Getting Fitted Out :: Mark Nicholson : 6/6/2013 :

In today's AusPharm feature article, JR Pharmacy Service's Mark Nicholson discusses some of the the do's and dont's when refitting your pharmacy.

For many owners the necessary response to the ongoing challenges facing pharmacy (eg deliver services and engage the customer) will be to refit the pharmacy, join a Brand or do both.

The fitout objective of course is to attract more customers, have them use all parts of the store, increase their spend and return more often.
   More... premium

Cough and cold products for children :: PSA National President Grant Kardachi : 4/6/2013 : The Therapeutic Goods Administration’s changes to the sale of coughs and cold medicines have caused some degree of confusion within the pharmacy profession, and indeed the wider health profession sector generally.

The changes followed a detailed review of the use of cough and cold medicines in children by the TGA, following which a number of changes have been made to the way such medicines can be sold.

Among these changes is that a number of cough and cold medicines are not recommended for children under 6 years of age.  The recommendations state also that cough and cold medicines should only be given to children aged 6 to 11 years on the advice of a doctor, pharmacist or nurse practitioner.   More... premium

We must work together to take charge of our own destiny, because no one else will :: Executive Director of the Pharmacy Guild: David Quilty : 28/5/2013 : Sometimes it takes a set of really big numbers to focus the mind.

For community pharmacy, this year’s Federal Budget week provided such an occasion.  

The four-year forward estimates for pharmaceutical expenditures were reduced by a further $2.5 billion on top of the $1.6 billion reduction in last year’s budget.   More... premium

Save for the four Pís :: Norman Thurecht : 23/5/2013 :

In today's AusPharm feature JR Pharmacy's Norman Thurecht talks about how pharmacies need to change their focus from 'product, place, price and promotion' to 'Solutions, Access, Value and Education'.

"For retailers the four P’s represent the product, place, price and promotion. These concepts have served retailers well in their pursuit of selling more to the same or new customers. However, modern retail thought leadership suggests that the focus should change from products to Solutions, place to Access, price to Value and promotion to Education. The four P’s are morphing into a concept known as SAVE."   More... premium

Investing in our future :: Justin Lee : 21/5/2013 : Will I have enough money to live comfortably after I retire? No, this is not a promo for a superannuation fund or investment firm.

Our post-working life and mortality are not questions we often want to face, especially when we are in the prime of our lives. When asked, most young pharmacists reveal their preoccupation with their current situation in life; job stability and career progression weigh heavily on their minds. This is, of course, understandable. Why think about crossing a bridge that is nowhere in sight? Yet, the current financial climate demands that we plan well ahead if we want to be able to enjoy the fruits of our many years of labour.   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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