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AusPharm news

We'll be back on Tuesday : 28/03/2013 :

With Easter upon us, AusPharm will be taking a break until Tuesday.

We have heard, however, that there may be further HMR news pending. If there is any action over the weekend, we'll run the news on our website.

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Union name change to Professional Pharmacists Australia : 28/03/2013 :

The union representing employee pharmacists, Pharmacists' Division of APESMA, has changed its name to Professional Pharmacists Australia (PPA).

The renamed union, which says it has about a thousand paying members, will offer CPD, advocacy for employee pharmacists and legal services to help resolve individual workplace problems. Full membership of the union costs $649 P/A with discounts for pharmacists with lower incomes and for graduates.

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Securing your data : 28/03/2013 :

On Tuesday, AusPharm reported on the threat posed to pharmacies by hackers attempting to penetrate pharmacy computer networks. It highlighted a recent case where a pharmacy had been successfully held to ransom for the return of its data, which had been encrypted by hackers.

The Pharmacy Guild yesterday provided AusPharm with some advice to pass on about how pharmacies (and others) can protect their computer systems.

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Most pharmacies engaging with professional services programs : 28/03/2013 :

2/3 of the respondents to this week's AusPharm poll told us their pharmacies were engaging with pharmacy professional services programs such as Medscheck, Diabetes Medscheck and compliance programs.

12% of respondents said they are engaging with these programs 'enthusiastically and profitably' with 26% 'doing a bit'. 

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CPExpo 2013: Register now for early bird rates : 27/03/2013 :

PSA NSW Branch’s Clinical and Practice Expo will be held Friday 31 May to Sunday 2 June 2013 at the Hordern Pavilion, Sydney.

CPExpo 2013 is designed to connect practice to patient outcomes with opportunities to connect with industry partners and patient support groups to boost resources for your pharmacies, and to engage with clinical experts and colleagues to advance your knowledge.

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Poll: has your pharmacy implemented professional services? : 27/03/2013 :

Industry commentators have been saying for a decade and more that pharmacy needs to move away from a position of earning the bulk of its (net) income from dispensing - up to 60% of some pharmacy's net profit is made up of revenue based on discounts from the suppliers of generic drugs. One new revenue stream increasingly available to pharmacies is paid professional services, through such programs as Medchecks, Diabetes Medschecks and Guildcare complliance programs .

To what extent has your pharmacy embraced the opportunities provided by these programs and others like them? Please let us know by ticking the relevant box in this week's AusPharm poll.

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Shayne Neumann new Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Ageing : 27/03/2013 :

MP for the Queensland seat of Blair is the new Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Ageing, following this week's ALP ministerial reshuffle. In this role he will assume responsibility for the activities of the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).

Before joining federal parliament, Mr Neumann worked with the West Moreton District Health Council and chaired Health Reference groups in Ipswich and surrounding country areas. He formerly served on the Board of Queensland Baptist Care, which was responsible for aged care homes and facilities in Ipswich and surrounding areas as well as counselling, community and disability services in Ipswich and rural areas of Blair.

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Students asked to share their view of pharmacy’s future : 25/03/2013 :

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia has launched a new competition for final year pharmacy students in Australia designed to encourage students to communicate their vision for community pharmacy and the role of the pharmacist in the future.

“The future is in the hands of innovative students. It’s going to be up to them to make or break the world of pharmacy”, National President of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, Kos Sclavos, said.

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New pharmacy program accreditation standards approved : 25/03/2013 :

The Pharmacy Board has approved revised accreditation standards for pharmacy programs in Australia and New Zealand.

The approval follows a review of the existing standards by the Australian Pharmacy Council (APC), the designated accreditation authority for the pharmacy profession in Australia. The review built on existing accreditation standards and included a comparison against international standards.

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Three new additions to Asthma Council Library : 25/03/2013 :

The National Asthma Council Australia has released three new evidence-based information papers for health professionals, together with a series of corresponding patient education brochures.

The three resources, Asthma & Allergy; Asthma & Wheezing in the First Years of Life; and, Asthma & Complementary Therapies will form the basis of a new library of free resources that already includes Asthma & Lung Function Tests (launched in 2012). 

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New generics resources launched : 25/03/2013 :

The Generic Medicines Industry Association (GMiA) and the Pharmacy Guild of Australia have jointly launched a new initiative – Why choose generic medicines?

According to the two organisations, Australians are very positive towards generic medicines - 82% agree that a generic medicine is ‘a product I know and trust’ however Australians display a preference (2:1) for branded over generic medicines, revealing a disconnect between favourable perceptions and their purchasing decisions.

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CSO: don't let your guard down : 25/03/2013 :

Pharmacists need to remind themselves of the benefits of the wholesaler Community Service Obligation (CSO) and ensure it is included in the 6th Community Pharmacy Agreement says Deloitte Access Economics' Professor Ian Harper.

In a presentation at the APP conference on Saturday Professor Harper took delegates back to 2005, prior to the introduction of the CSO, and described a fragile wholesaling environment in which the industry saw the emergence of a number of 'short line' wholesalers that threatened the viability of the full line providers. The ability of pharmacies in rural areas in particular to obtain PBS drugs in a timely fashion was becoming increasingly uncertain.

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Beware of hackers : 25/03/2013 :

Speaking during the Panel discussion at the APP conference on Friday, Guild President Kos Sclavos told delegates that the threat posed by offshore hackers attempting to penetrate community pharmacy computer networks was one of the biggest threats facing the industry in the next 12 months.

Fred IT Group CEO Paul Naismith said that his company had dealt with clients in the last three months who had been the target of hackers. He warned delegates that if attacked it was highly unlikely they would be able to retrieve the stolen data.

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RGH E‑Bulletin: Liraglutide : 25/03/2013 :

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

"In recent years there has been great focus on incretin-based therapies for type 2 diabetes mellitus. Incretin hormones such as glucagon-like peptide (GLP-1) help to maintain blood glucose levels by regulating insulin and glucagon. These compounds are secreted by gut endocrine and pancreatic cells in response to a meal. The incretin effect is reduced in patients with diabetes, which contributes to impaired insulin regulation. Liraglutide (Victoza®) has recently become registered by the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration for the treatment of adults with type 2 diabetes mellitus as an adjunct to diet and exercise. Liraglutide is a glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist produced using recombinant DNA technology. Liraglutide binds to and activates the GLP-1 receptor, thereby stimulating insulin release as well as decreasing inappropriate glucagon secretion. The potential for hypoglycaemia is low, as insulin is only released in response to high glucose levels."

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

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800 'unemployed' pharmacists : 25/03/2013 :

Speaking at the APP conference on the Gold Coast on Saturday Guild President Kos Sclavos said he believes, taking into account 'underemployment' where pharmacists aren't working as much as the would like, there are about 800 full time equivalent 'unemployed' pharmacists in Australia at present.

Mr Sclavos said it was important to get good data so that accurate employment stats could be compiled. He added that, because of skewing of the figures caused by pharmacists' pre-registration year, data relating to both the first and second years following graduation should be studied.

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SHPA, union respond to HMR funding announcement : 25/03/2013 :

Following Friday's announcement by Health Minister Tanya Plibersek that HMR funding would not be reduced in most instances, the Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia (SHPA) says it is pleased it will be more closely involved in the HMR Hospital Referral pathway that will commence later this year.

The Minister said, as part of her announcement on Friday, “I have agreed research is needed to make sure the targeting of the HMR program is appropriate. This will happen as part of the HMR Hospital Referral pathway that will commence later this year. However, the research will not just involve the Guild and Department – both the PSA and SHPA will be actively involved, and other peak stakeholders will be consulted to ensure we get it right.”

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PBS expenditure in decline for the first time in 20 years : 25/03/2013 :

Previously unpublished PBS data shows that, for the first time in 20 years, government expenditure on the PBS is in decline. This finding was outlined in a presentation to delegates at the weekend's APP conference by the Guild’s National Director of Health Economics, Stephen Armstrong.

Figures on PBS expenditure and prescription volumes are released monthly by Medicare however that data tracks the pattern of claims processing, which is lagged and can accelerate and slow down unpredictably (as AusPharm points out when we publish these stats). This published data is volatile and bears no relationship to PBS dispensing by community pharmacies in each month, says the Guild.

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HMR and other Professional Program funding safe : 23/03/2013 :

In an announcement made at the APP conference late yesterday afternoon Guild President Kos Sclavos confirmed that agreement has been reached between the Department of Health and Ageing and the Guild to preserve existing levels of funding for Pharmacy Professional Programs, including Home Medicines reviews.

Rumours have been circulating in pharmacy circles for a fortnight that fees would be slashed following the leaking of an internal DoHA / Guild discussion document canvassing significant fee reductions.

For the details, read on. For a personal message to pharmacists from Health Minister Tanya Plibersek, take a look at today's AusPharmList Post of the day.

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Lim's Pharmacy 2013 Pharmacy of the year : 22/03/2013 :

Lim’s Pharmacy in Springvale, Victoria is the 2013 QCPP Pharmacy of the Year.  The honour was announced yesterday at the Australian Pharmacy Professional conference (APP) on the Gold Coast.

Lim’s Pharmacy is the community engagement category winner, and was judged to be the best pharmacy overall. Owner pharmacist Richard Lim accepted the award on behalf of his team.

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Pharmacists: open slather pharmacy ownership unlikely : 22/03/2013 :

More than 3/4 of pharmacists voting in this week's AusPharm poll believe that a new review of pharmacy ownership laws in Australia would not result in the complete abolition of 'pharmacist only' ownership.

In November last year Productivity Commission Chair, Gary Banks, flagged that a second National Competition Policy Review of pharmacy ownership remains on the Commission's 'to do' list. 

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