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AusPharm news

RGH E‑Bulletin: Ponatinib : 16/11/2015 :

The topic of this week's RGH E‑Bulletin is Ponatinib.

"Ponatinib (Iclusig®) is a tyrosine kinase inhibitor which has recently been approved for subsidised supply via the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) as of 1 November 2015 with the following indications (see PBS website for full criteria for eligibility of patients):

  • Treatment in chronic-phase, accelerated-phase or blast-phase chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) patients who are resisting or not tolerating at least two other tyrosine kinase inhibitors (e.g. imatinib, dasatinib, nilotinib) OR in patients with a T315I mutation
  • Treatment in Philadelphia chromosome positive acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (Ph+ ALL) patients who are resisting or not tolerating dasatinib and where imatinib would not be a clinically appropriate option OR in patients with a T315I mutation"

Click here to read the bulletin in full. The E‑Bulletins are archived on the AusPharmList website here.

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Guild: discounted co-payment savings forecast wrong : 16/11/2015 :

A Pharmacy Guild commissioned analysis of the fiscal impact of the $1 discounted PBS co-payment - set to come into force on 1 Jan 2016 -  has concluded that the government forecast of $373 million in PBS savings over the life of the 6th Community Pharmacy Agreement is grossly overestimated and may well be less than $100 million.

The analysis, yet to be made public but seen by AusPharm, notes that the saving estimated by the government of $373 million appears to be based on a universal uptake of the $1 discount, with 100% of households eligible for the PBS Safety Net receiving the discount and making the maximum number of additional co-payments (12 for concessional and 1 for general households).

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New national diabetes strategy launched : 16/11/2015 :

A new National Diabetes Strategy has been developed, to update and prioritise Australia’s response to diabetes across all levels of government.

The Australian National Diabetes Strategy 2016-2020 (the Strategy) - released last Friday, on World Diabetes Day - contains a number of goals and potential areas for action that provide a range of ideas for implementation to achieve each goal. 

The emphasis of the strategy is on prevention, early diagnosis, intervention, management and treatment, centred on the role of primary care.

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Antibiotics: handle with care : 16/11/2015 :

Today marks the start of World Antibiotic Awareness Week (16-22 November) which aims to increase awareness of global antibiotic resistance and to encourage best practices among the general public, health workers and policy makers to avoid the further emergence and spread of antibiotic resistance.

A global action plan to tackle the growing problem of resistance to antibiotics and other antimicrobial medicines was endorsed at the Sixty-eighth World Health Assembly in May 2015. One of the key objectives of the plan is to improve awareness and understanding of antimicrobial resistance through effective communication, education and training.

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Open sale naproxen on the agenda again : 13/11/2015 :

A proposal to allow sale in grocery outlets of small packs of naproxen is once again on the agenda for the Advisory Committee on Medicines Scheduling (ACMS).

The ACMS has previously (Feb, 2015) rejected a similar proposal, in part because of the 'potential for inappropriate & overuse of the product, especially if advice from a pharmacist is not available'.

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Guild releases codeine decision costing report : 13/11/2015 :

Earlier this week the Pharmacy Guild claimed that up-scheduling Schedule 2 and 3 codeine containing products to prescription only status would cost taxpayers $316 million a year in increased MBS outlays alone (link).

The claim was based on costings done by Cadence Economics which assumes 53% of patients would visit a GP to obtain codeine-based analgesics.

The Guild has now released the report on which it based the claim.

Read it here.

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New infant formula exclusive to Chemist Warehouse : 13/11/2015 :

Vitamin manufacturer Nature's Way yesterday launched a new infant formula range - Kids Smart Infant Formula, Kids Smart Follow-on and Toddler Milk - available exclusively through Chemist Warehouse, which the company says 'should help curb the spiralling Chinese and local demand for trusted, home-grown infant and toddler formula'.

Chinese demand for Australian infant formula has boomed over the past 12 months following serious contamination scares of Chinese manufactured infant formula.

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Pharmacists a disciplined lot, exercise wise : 13/11/2015 :

More than 3/4 of the respondents to this week's AusPharm poll engage in some sort of exercise / physical activity with over half of this group tracking their activity using some form of device.

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Antibiotic Awareness Week resources available from NPS medicinewise : 12/11/2015 :

NPS MedicineWise has published a range of resources to help individuals, health professionals and organisations support next week's Antibiotic Awareness Week (16-22 November 2015).

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CHF journal focuses on preventive health : 12/11/2015 :

The recently published November issue of Health Voices - the journal of the Consumers Health Forum - has as its focus preventive health.

It features articles from a number of influential players in the Australian health system including Health Minister Sussan Ley, Shadow Health Minister Catherine King and Greens leader Richard Di Natale.

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ASMI demonstrates new consumer S3 medicines ad format : 12/11/2015 :

The Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI) has produced a mock ad to demonstrate the consumer advertising model it has been advocating for Schedule 3 (S3) products. Direct to consumer advertising of most Schedule 3 products is currently not permitted.

The ad – for “Brand FAM” (famciclovir) cold sore treatment - was screened at ASMI's annual conference in Sydney yesterday.

The advertising model was developed by ASMI in consultation with the Pharmacy Guild and the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia.

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PSA calls for pharmacists to be included in MBS items : 12/11/2015 :

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) has called for the Medical Benefits Scheme (MBS) to be expanded to allow pharmacists to access MBS funds for quality use of medicines initiatives.

In the PSA submission to the MBS Taskforce Review, the National President of the PSA, Joe Demarte said: ‘This is an opportunity to improve outcomes in the care of patients with chronic diseases and complex care needs by optimising the contribution of pharmacists in multidisciplinary care teams and primary health care settings – areas of the MBS which may be better utilised to reduce the impact of medication misadventure.’

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Guild claims codeine decision would cost $316m per year in extra doctor visits alone : 12/11/2015 :

The Pharmacy Guild yesterday claimed that up-scheduling Schedule 2 and 3 codeine containing products to prescription only status would cost taxpayers $316 million a year in increased MBS outlays alone.

The claim is based on costings done by Cadence Economics which assumes 53% of patients would visit a GP to obtain codeine-based analgesics.

According to the Guild, Cadence estimates that there will be 8.7 million additional GP visits annually (based on 16.4 million purchases of OTC codeine-based analgesics annually) as a result of the up-scheduling of codeine containing OTC analgesics. At a weighted average cost to the Commonwealth of $36.41 per GP visit, this equates to an annual MBS cost of $316.4 million.

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Drug Misuse: Latest Health News & Evidence : 11/11/2015 :

For evidence-based information that can empower you to play your part in reducing drug misuse in the community, take a look at the range of articles recently published on the NPS MedicineWise website.

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Poll: do you wear a device to track your physical activity? : 11/11/2015 :

In his feature for AusPharm yesterday Irwin Lowe wrote about his recent experiences with his new FitBit, commenting in particular on the effect a 'hard day' has on his heart rate.

AusPharm also tracks our physical activity but we limit our scope to actual dedicated exercise (walking for us). We use an app for our iPhone called RunKeeper, tethered to a wrist watch like thingy called a Pebble for ease of display.

Do you track your activity using a FitBit or similar? Please let us know by ticking the relevant box in Today's AusPharm poll.

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Study: opioid addiction very commonly originates from prescription painkillers – more commonly in women : 11/11/2015 :

Painkillers prescribed by doctors are now the starting point for addiction to opioids for more people than heroin according to a new study of 503 patients attending Canadian methadone clinics, published in the open access journal Biology of Sex Differences.

The results show that over half (52%) of women and over a third (38%) of men reported doctor-prescribed painkillers as being their first contact with opioid drugs.

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Government and GBMA agree policy priorities for PBS and industry viability : 11/11/2015 :

Four policy priorities aimed at safeguarding affordable access to medicines in Australia while ensuring the generic and biosimilar medicines industry remains viable have been agreed to by the Federal Government.

The Generic Medicines Working Group (GMWG), which was established under the Strategic Agreement signed by the Minister for Heath, Hon Sussan Ley and the Generic and Biosimilar Medicines Association (GBMA) in May 2015, has identified four policy priorities that have been endorsed by the Minister.

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PSA journal Australian Pharmacist wins awards : 10/11/2015 :

Australian Pharmacist, the official monthly journal of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia, recently won its third national award in a week when journalist Peter Waterman won the Bupa National Press Club Health Journalism Award in the Documentary Category.

Last month in Sydney Australian Pharmacist editor and journalist Andrew Daniels won the Journalist of the Year (Business) award at the national Publish Awards and Rebecca Jones and Lyn Todd won the Publish Award for Cover of the Year (Business).

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TGA renews warning on counterfeit medicines and medical devices : 10/11/2015 :

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is once again warning consumers about the dangers of using counterfeit medicines and medical devices, usually sourced from overseas websites.

The agency highlights that it has not checked these products for safety or efficacy and it is impossible to know for certain what their true makeup is.

Counterfeit medicines and medical devices are often deliberately packaged to look like the genuine article. All types of medicines and medical devices are targets for counterfeiting however weight loss, hair loss and erectile dysfunction medicines are prominent amongst them.

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Flu numbers up in 2015 : 10/11/2015 :

A record number of cases of influenza were reported to Australian health authorities in 2015.

The reason(s) for the increase are not known for certain and may simply be a consequence of more cases being notified to regulatory agencies by doctors (influenza is a notifiable disease).

In an attempt to minimise 2016 influenza cases, a new quadrivalent influenza vaccine has been approved by the TGA for use.

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