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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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Pharmacy’s Reputation and Public Support A Must In Influencing Government :: Stephen G. Greenwood : 13/5/2013 : You can spend a lifetime building up a reputation for integrity only to have it dashed by scandal or a betrayal of trust. Just ask Julia Gillard whose reputation is now so tarnished and her series of policy back flips so stunning that people now don’t believe a word which emanates from her or her office. Was there ever an Australian leader less trusted by the public? A local radio station the other day aired listeners referring to 14 September, Election Day as ‘Clean Up Australia Day’. Enough said.

While the Prime Minister’s problem with the truth is not a new issue it remains ever present as we approach the Budget. For there she was the other day saying that in spite of her myriad of financial undertakings to the contrary that she would deliver a surplus, new advice from Treasury now says the opposite will occur and a whopping great big deficit of over $12 billion is the only responsible course. If the facts change just change the narrative.   More... premium

Mrs B taught me a lot that day :: Chris Alderman : 9/5/2013 : AusPharm's recent call for 'listers to send along their accounts of situations where pharmacists have used their diverse skill set to produce a positive patient outcome provoked several submissions.

Today's vignette is from Dr Chris Alderman.

When I met her some 20 years ago, Mrs B was a lady in her mid-seventies who despite her otherwise reasonable health, had smoked as a younger woman and was left with a legacy of significant emphysema. She had been admitted under the respiratory unit of the hospital, where at that time I was working as a clinical pharmacist.    More... premium

What's in a name? :: David Haworth : 8/5/2013 : Earlier this week, in light of recent AusPharmList posts on pharmacy names, David Haworth reminded us of an article he wrote on just that back in 2009. He suggested we dust it off and give it another run. Great idea David - here it is.

A new art form has evolved as pharmacies clamour to raise themselves above the rest of the pack.

Traditional naming protocols are giving way to inventive and emotive signage. Clever, punchy or just plain wacky pharmacy names are being dreamed up to grab the consumers attention and lure them into the modern, well designed premises.   More... premium

MoU not just a feel-good exercise :: PSA National President Grant Kardachi : 7/5/2013 : PSA’s commitment to furthering stakeholder engagement and collaboration with other health professionals took  another step forwards recently in the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the  Society  and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP).

This MoU further strengthens existing collaborative efforts between the two organisations, while also laying the groundwork for further cooperative endeavours.   More... premium

Management of alcohol use disorders (Part One) :: Chris Alderman : 30/4/2013 :

Alcohol is a commonly used social drug, enjoyed in moderation by many without causing specific medical or psychiatric problems. Along with nicotine, alcohol consumed in various forms is one of the most widely used substances around the world, and consumption is a part of everyday social rituals in some cultures. Relative to the cost of other substances, alcohol is relatively affordable, although excise tax and other governmental charges are often a large component of the retail cost of purchasing alcoholic beverages.

Although fine wines and other alcoholic drinks bring a great deal of pleasure to many people, it is important to remember that alcohol exerts a range of physiological effects on the brain that are reflected in behavioural phenomena.   More... premium

“All Trials” Campaign worthy of Aussie pharmacists’ support :: Ian Carr : 26/4/2013 : Firstly, let me introduce myself to the AusPharm readership. A practising community Pharmacist since 1979, I have taken a special interest in the Skeptic movement, critical thinking and Evidence Based Medicine, and have attempted to incorporate these ideals and principles into my practice.

Some years ago, I came across the writings of Dr Ben Goldacre, a UK GP whose column “Bad Science” in the Guardian newspaper (readily accessed online) delivers witty skewerings of such well-deserved targets as homoeopathy, chiropractic, “Brain Gym”, vaccine and fluoridation fearmongers and many more.   More... premium

Need more sleep? You must be dreaming :: John Bell : 26/4/2013 : 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 April issue featured an article on sleep.

However long we sleep, we’re probably never satisfied. For some of us getting to sleep and/or staying asleep is a major problem and as a consequence we’re dopey and drowsy all day. For others, sleep appears to be just an inconvenient impediment to being able to complete the necessary activities of the day.    More... premium

Unity of purpose and professional pride :: John Bronger : 23/4/2013 : The recent announcement that Kos Sclavos will step down from the presidency of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia in October came as a surprise and his contribution to community pharmacy should be justifiably recognised. But there’s plenty of time for that. Right now I’m more interested in what this changing dynamic in pharmacy leadership means to the Guild’s approach towards representing the interests of its members and community pharmacy more generally.

Kos has been at the apex of all Guild decision-making since he won its presidency almost eight years ago. Renowned for his energy and ability to put in the long hours, he has been the driving force behind the Guild’s policies and took a hands-on approach to managing and negotiating its relationships.   More... premium

Leet tips for internship seekers :: Wendy Morton : 18/4/2013 : About eight years ago, a very frustrated fellow seeking a position as a pre-registrant pharmacist posted on AusPharmList to express his exasperation "...for 6 weeks I have been  circulating my C.V. and no response..."

Now, I haven't always been a pharmacist, and if there's one skill-set you get the chance to polish to a high sheen working as a Medical Detailer and a Real Estate Agent before you sign up as a mature-aged student to study Pharmacy, it's how to network effectively  and how to get your foot in a door.   More... premium

Freeman’s HMR model should be admired and supported :: PSA National President Grant Kardachi : 16/4/2013 : The resolution of the HMR issue for the time being has certainly eased the concerns of many pharmacists and consumers.

However, there is still a tendency in some quarters to lay all blame for the problem on to the direct referral system without actually examining the facts closely. In fact, official figures show that of the identified rorting of the system, some 50% of reviews were being done in pharmacies and 50% in clinics.  Of course, operating outside the business rules with the sole aim to increase profit is unacceptable and at PSA we are committed to stamping out any abuse of the program.

Having said that, we do not want to throw the baby out with the bath water as seems to be the intent of some who seek to brand all direct referral HMRs as inappropriate.   More... premium

All pharmacists do is stick labels on boxes :: Terry Irvine : 15/4/2013 : AusPharm's recent call for 'listers to send along their accounts of situations where pharmacists have used their diverse skill set to produce a positive patient outcome provoked several submissions.

Today's vignette is from Terry Irvine.

Around the turn of the century, I was working in a pharmacy in a regional city in NSW. One day a gentleman presented a bundle of prescriptions with the request that I provide him with information on what had been prescribed, what the medicine was for, and when he was to take it, in a concise schedule form. This was before there were computer programs to easily produce such a schedule so I entered all the information in an Excel spreadsheet. 

Most of the medicines were straight forward and easily explained, but when I got to the last item, I explained that was for his diabetes.
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Psychiatric illness, psychotropics, and assessing fitness to drive :: Chris Alderman : 11/4/2013 :

Recent statistics confirm that over 1300 people are killed in road traffic accidents in Australia each year, in addition to a further 32,000 people who are seriously injured. Ways to address this pressing issue include overhauling road traffic legislation, public awareness initiatives, improved driving training, creating and maintaining better roads, and other approaches.

One aspect that is perhaps not as visible on the agenda is the process whereby it is determined that an individual is indeed fit to drive a personal or commercial vehicle – a driver who is not fit to do so is at risk themselves and also represents a risk to other road users. This issue is specifically addressed in guidance published by Austroads and the National Transport Commission, in a resource entitled Assessing fitness to drive for commercial and private vehicle drivers.   More... premium

Just a bit blurry :: Thelma Tantalos : 8/4/2013 : An elderly, regular male customer came in one day wanting something for his eyes. On further questioning I established there was no discharge, no itch, no sticky residue, no redness, no conjunctival symptoms whatsoever.

So what's wrong then?

"Oh, my vision is just a bit blurry."
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It's all over now :: Stephen G. Greenwood : 2/4/2013 : “Still trying to play me for that same old clown Because I used to love her but it’s all over now”
Lyrics Bobby and Shirley Womack. An excerpt from the first Rolling Stones hit song, 1964.

It is not long since the pharmacy faithful gathered at the Gold Coast for the most spectacular Australian Pharmacy Professional ever staged. With over 4000 participants and a Trade Exhibition of such size that it threatened to expand out onto the Pacific Highway, you’d be churlish not to congratulate Tim Logan, Kos Sclavos and Robyn Ede and her team for an exceptional and outstanding conference.   More... premium

Worsening GORD? :: Peter Bayly : 2/4/2013 : AusPharm's recent call for 'listers to send along their accounts of situations where pharmacists have used their diverse skill set to produce a positive patient outcome provoked several submissions.

Today's vignette is from Peter Bayly.

Joy and her family were regular patients for many years when I managed Bayly Pharmacy, a low turnover but profitable and professionally satisfying business.  The pharmacy's turnover was predominantly derived from medicines and prescriptions - we knew most of our customers and often their prescription history before we checked it.

I would try to have a conversation with most patients every time we saw them or at least offer a greeting so there was an opportunity to ask questions or express an opinion. Many a “counseling” event started this way.
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Opportunities for collaboration between Medicare Locals and community pharmacy :: Executive Director of the Pharmacy Guild: David Quilty : 21/3/2013 : One of the key sessions at this week’s Australian Pharmacy Professional (APP) conference will focus on
Medicare Locals and their potential to foster new working partnerships between community pharmacies and general practices – all aimed at delivering better quality health care for patients.

As readers of AusPharm would know, Australia’s primary health care sector has been reformed through the development of 61 Medicare Locals across Australia.   More... premium

HMRs and the political art of deflection :: John Bronger : 19/3/2013 : The Guild leadership must feel in a corner judging by its forceful attack on the PSA, accusing it of being anti-community pharmacy and apportioning blame for the current crisis over the home medicines review (HMR) program.

But it’s an old tactic supported by a belief in the old political maxim, ‘might is right’. The Guild’s attack is clearly misdirected and points to motives other than looking for long-term solutions that can win the support of, and community support for, the entire profession.   More... premium

Life is a large number of little events which, taken together, may be life changing :: John Chapman : 18/3/2013 : AusPharm's recent call for 'listers to send along their accounts of situations where pharmacists have used their diverse skill set to produce a positive patient outcome provoked several submissions.

Today's vignette is from John Chapman.

Nearly 20 years ago, working in Brisbane, I was presented with a prescription repeat for Sertraline 100mg, 4 daily. As I dispensed this ‘script my agile and incisive mind leapt onto the dose and possibilities.

Well, actually no, but it WAS a big dose for a man who was not large and it sort of gnawed away at my consciousness. What to do?
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Pain and psychiatry :: Chris Alderman : 14/3/2013 :

There is a significant and complex relationship between mental illness and pain, and being involved in the treatment of patients affected by both can present challenging issues for practitioners. The relationship between mental illness and the characteristics of acute and chronic can be complicated and have the potential to give rise to clinical problems for the individual patient, as well as broader populations or health services.

Some psychotropic drugs can influence the response to analgesia. For example, pre-treatment with opioids in a substitution programme may reduce responsiveness to analgesia used for acute pain (e.g. post-operative pain) because of tolerance. For this reason, people in methadone maintenance programmes may actually require a higher dose of opioid to achieve adequate relief of acute pain (this can be misinterpreted as opioid seeking behaviour. When prescribed for the management of alcoholism, the opioid antagonist naltrexone completely blocks the effects of all opioids at standard doses.   More... premium

Celebrate the success of HMRs :: Debbie Rigby : 13/3/2013 : HMRs and RMMRs are the only professional programs proven to be sustainable across successive Community Pharmacy Agreements. The growth in uptake of HMRs has been steady since commencement in 2001. They have been inculcated into clinical guidelines, and are often recommended as part of the Veterans' MATES modules and NPS News.

Undergraduate and graduate courses at universities include lectures on medication reviews and some have met requirements for stage 1 of AACP accreditation. There is high level evidence of benefits and improved health outcomes and cost savings to the healthcare system. Pharmacists of all levels of experience see MMRs as a career path. Pharmacy students see MMRs as part of their future.   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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