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UPDATED: Fair work ombudsman's pharmacy report draws opposing reactions from Guild, union : 16/12/2013 :

Released today, the Fair Work Ombudsman’s national pharmacy audit report has drawn opposing views on its findings from the Pharmacy Guild and Professional Pharmacists Australia (PPA). The report found a 75% compliance rate amongst pharmacies.

The report found a 75% compliance rate against the provisions of the Pharmacy Industry Award amongst pharmacies which the Guild said 'shows significant progress in award compliance across the industry.'

PPA, however, said 'One quarter of Australia's pharmacy owners are breaking workplace laws, including underpaying their pharmacists and other staff, according to a shocking new Fair Work Ombudsman's audit report released today.'

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Cancer spending rising faster than total health spending : 16/12/2013 :

Spending on cancer has risen at a slightly faster rate than total health spending in recent years, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Health system expenditure on cancer and other neoplasms in Australia: 2008–09, shows, after adjusting for inflation, spending on cancer rose by 56% between 2000–01 and 2008–09, from $2,894 million to $4,526 million. Over the same period, total health system expenditure rose by 52% from $74,679 million to $113,661 million.

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Victorian poppy trials proceeding well : 13/12/2013 :

GSK's scientific trials of commercial poppy growing in Victoria, begun in July 2013, are progressing positively, with harvests anticipated in January 2014. This is one small step toward Victorian farmers being able to produce commercial crops.

Currently legal commercial poppy growing for opioid production is only conducted in Tasmania, which accounts for around 50 percent of world production, with around 10 000 hectares of crops per year. GSK states that plans to source from Victorian growers is intended to supplement, not replace, Tasmanian production. GSK is one of three poppy processors in Tasmania. The company is working with the Victorian Government to ensure it has all the necessary information to prepare the regulatory framework for commercial poppy production in Victoria. Legislation is expected to go before State Parliament over the coming months.

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PBS co-payment increases effective 1 Jan 2014 : 13/12/2013 :

Effective 1 January 2014, the patient PBS prescription co-payment levels, additional associated fees and safety net thresholds will be increased. The patient co-payments will increase to $6.00 (concessional) and $36.90 (general patients); these increases are linked to the consumer price index and are made annually.

Given recent discussion of the role of a schedule of recommended fees for pharmacy/pharmacist services, it is interesting to note that there is no obligation to comply with the safety net recording fees for items priced below the general co-payment... it is up to the individual pharmacist to determine their own additional charge. (per 5th CPA, clause 12).

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Pharmacists price DAAs : 13/12/2013 :

Pharmacists believe an appropriate weekly fee for managing all aspects of a patient`s dose administration aid is between $9 and $12 suggests the result of this week's AusPharm poll.

30% of respondents to the poll thought $10-$14 the right fee with 25% going for $6-$9 and 14% opting for $15-$20 - our take on this is that the 'average' would fall somewhere in the $9-$12 range.

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Grassroots Advocacy - White Knights campaign revisited? : 13/12/2013 :

In a move reminiscent of the White Knights campaign launched in the leadup to the 2000 Review of Pharmacy Ownership, the Pharmacy Guild says it is now to establish a grassroots advocacy network of community pharmacy champions.

The members of this network will have the job of working constructively with parliamentarians and other local stakeholders to demonstrate the important rol pharmacies play in their communities.

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WHO traditional medicine strategy - the next decade : 12/12/2013 :

The World Health Organisation's Traditional Medicine 2014-2023 Strategy was officially launched in Macau by Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General, at the end of October 2013. Now available for download, the 78-page document sets a course over the next 10 years for delivering traditional and complementary medicines (T&CM) within existing healthcare delivery systems.

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WA SHPA 2013 Achievement Award to Bruce Williamson : 12/12/2013 :

Congratulations to Bruce Williamson (clinical pharmacist, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital), on being awarded the SHPA 2013 Achievement Award from the WA Branch SHPA.

Bruce was the first pharmacist appointee in Western Australia to the role of Complex Care Coordinator Pharmacist to CoNeCT - the Complex Needs Coordination Team for the North Metropolitan Area Health Service. The CoNect program responds to the needs of complex patients who are frequent presenters to the acute hospital setting and often have extensive hospital admissions.  CoNect provides individually tailored service linkage, advocacy and support in the community.

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Tips for asthma sufferers over Christmas : 12/12/2013 :

The National Asthma Council of Australia has issued its seasonal reminder of Christmas asthma triggers, to help sufferers avoid unecessary wheezing and asthma episodes. Asthmatics are reminded:

  • that real pine trees can bear pollen which triggers asthma in some people; be aware of this and use artificial trees if this is the case.
  • to avoid dusty decorations and highly scented candles.
  • to vacuum artificial trees and decorations and unpack them outside if possible, wiping down artificial trees before putting them up inside. Store cleaned decorations in a sealed bag or box after Christmas, so they are less likely to be a problem next year.
  • to be aware that emotional ups and downs, including laughter and stress, can trigger wheezing.
  • to keep to their personal written asthma action plan and make sure medication supplies are sufficient and on hand even if out socialising or away travelling.

The asthma action plan can be stored on a smartphone and accessed via the Asthma Buddy iPhone and Android app. Visit for more information.

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Woody Point Pharmacy of The Year entrant showcased online : 12/12/2013 :

Queensland pharmacist Steve Flavel has taken an innovative approach to putting Woody Point pharmacy in the running for Pharmacy of the Year (POTY) 2014. 

He has created a website to showcase the pharmacy's credentials as an entrant in the POTY competition, capturing achievements in pharmacy services, community engagement and business management.


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Consumer Health Forum CEO to head up Medicare Local : 12/12/2013 :

Former CEO of the Consumers Health Forum and vocal critic of PBS price disclosure policy, Carol Bennett, is to take up a position as CEO of the Hunter Medicare Local. In the past, Ms Bennett has also been critical of the omission of consumers from negotiations for the Community Pharmacy Agreements. She will commence her new role in the New Year.

Commenting on Ms Bennett's appointment Hunter Medicare Local Board member, pharmacist Ben Wilkins, said, "Carol's ability to harness an overall unity of purpose will allow Hunter ML to continue to lead. Her skills will allow our organisation and its members to truly focus on delivering a new level of health care and wellbeing to benefit individuals in our community."

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AusPharm CPD: RGH Pharmacy E-Bulletin CPD Digest - Issue Number 66 : 12/12/2013 :

The next in our series of continuing professional development activities is the RGH E-Bulletin Digest No. 66.

This CPD activity assesses your understanding of four recent RGH Pharmacy E-Bulletins, Volumes 52-3 → 52-6 (October 2013).

After completing this activity, pharmacists should be able to:

  • Describe various pharmacological options for the management of bipolar disorder
  • Discuss the influence of food intake upon drug disposition
  • Discuss principles of anticoagulant management in the perioperative period
  • Describe approaches to rationalisation of potentially inappropriate medications in the elderly.

This activity has been accredited for 0.5hr of Group One CPD (0.5 CPD Credits) that may be converted to 1 Group Two CPD Credit upon successful completion of the corresponding assessment for inclusion on an individual pharmacist's CPD Record.
Accreditation number: A1312AP1.

 AusPharm gratefully acknowledges the financial support provided by the sponsors of our CE program, MIMS.

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Table of significant events in Australian vaccination history : 11/12/2013 :

The history of vaccination in Australia is captured in summary tables published by the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS). Given the imminent entry of pharmacists into the vaccination space in a more active role, these tables provide some interesting perspective. The history of diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccination in Australia starts from 1892 with the first use of antitoxin to treat diphtheria. With a somewhat more recent pedigree,  flu vaccine history commences with interventions in 1991.

The NCIRS was established at the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children, (predecessor of The Children's Hospital, Westmead), by the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing in August 1997. The Centre is affiliated with the Discipline of Paediatrics and Child Health and the School of Public Health of the University of Sydney and currently has a staff of around 55 people.

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Poll: what would be an appropriate weekly fee for managing all aspects of a patient's dose administration aid? : 11/12/2013 :

Following the recent discussion on AusPharmList (and last week's poll) we thought it timely to try and get a sense of what value pharmacists put on their time and skill set.

One task common to most pharmacies is the preparation of a Websterpak (or similar dose administration aid [DAA]).

In a perfect world where pharmacy is able to charge a realistic fee for managing a patient's DAA, including maintaining a current medication profile, organising prescriptions, communicating with the medical practice re: required prescriptions and up to date profiles, packing, repacking, checking, handing out or delivering and paying for materials, what would an appropriate fee be to cover all of the costs and make a reasonable profit?

Please let us know what you think by voting in today's AusPharm poll.

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December NPS RADAR now out : 10/12/2013 :

The December issue of RADAR is now available on the NPS Medicinewise website.  It contains reviews of:

  • Dapagliflozin (Forxiga) & canagliflozin (Invokana) SGLT2 inhibitors for add-on therapy in type 2 diabetes mellitus
  • Fluticasone propionate with eformoterol fumarate (Flutiform) for asthma
  • Olmesartan with amlodipine and hydrochlorothiazide (Sevikar HCT) triple fixed-dose combination for hypertension
  • Ivabradine (Coralan) for chronic heart failure

as well as a number of 'in brief' news items.

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Pharmacy Board emphasises integrity of pharmacist's role : 10/12/2013 :

In its most recent communiqué, the Pharmacy Board of Australia reminds pharmacists that action by non-pharmacists (such as managerial staff) which impinges on their ability to meet their legal and ethical responsibilities may be subject to action under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law. The board has been contacted by pharmacists with instances of interference in day-to-day pharmacy practice, such as:

  • determining location of sale of scheduled pharmacy items;
  • supply of generic prescription brands; and
  • advertising of health services and therapeutic goods.

The Board also draws pharmacists’ attention to s136 of the National Law which outlines the serious consequences for an individual or corporate entity who directs or incites a pharmacist to do anything in the course of practising pharmacy that amounts to unprofessional conduct.

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Debbie Rigby to chair new SHPA Accredited Pharmacists Reference Group : 10/12/2013 :

Well-known consultant clinical pharmacist Debbie Rigby has been appointed to chair SHPA’s new Accredited Pharmacists Reference Group (APRG). In announcing the appointment, SHPA President Prof Michael Dooley said “Under her leadership this group will consolidate SHPA’s support for pharmacists who provide medication reviews, and guide SHPA and our members through changes in pharmacy practice such as a post-discharge hospital referral pathway for HMRs, which is on the horizon.”

The formation of the Accredited Pharmacists Reference Group was announced in October 2013 and the SHPA Federal Council has since been inviting suitable candidates to join the group. Other members of the APRG include Deirdre Criddle, Manya Angley, Peter Tenni, Helen Dowling, Michael Dooley, Sasha Bennett, Ian Coombes, Sue Driscoll, Sue Kirsa along with Rebecca Vassarotti (Consumers Health Forum, Acting CEO) and Pradeep Jayasuriya (GP, Perth).

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Retail sales up for Priceline : 10/12/2013 :

API has reported that retail sales in its Priceline /Priceline Pharmacy stores (excluding dispensary sales) for the 13 weeks to 30 November 2013 (1st quarter) were up 8.2% on the same period last year. Stephen Roche, API Managing Director said “This was a pleasing start to the year and reflects the continued trend of stronger retail sales experienced by API following the September election."

API's AGM is scheduled for 30 Jan 2014.

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Training in vaccine & injection techniques : 10/12/2013 :

Further to reading the AusPharm e-newsletter today, The Pharmacy Guild of Australia (NSW Branch) are pleased to advise that on Saturday 22 February 2014 at the CPD by the SEA – NSW Convention, we will be providing a Full Day Workshop for the 4th Year for Vaccine & Injection Techniques.

This full day workshop prepares pharmacists to obtain the required initial skills to administer a Vaccine or drug by intradermal or subcutaneous injection for the prevention of disease, disorders or conditions and for the treatment of anaphylaxis. Pharmacists will practice injecting techniques and be assessed for their competency to inject by an Accredited Registered Nurse.

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Guild: union 'plain wrong' on overtime and penalty rates : 10/12/2013 :

Comments made by Professional Pharmacists Australia President Geoff March earlier today about overtime and penalty rates are just 'plain wrong' according to the Pharmacy Guild of Australia.

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