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AusPharm news

Urgent need to improve continuity of care on discharge : 27/02/2012 :

The gap between moving from hospital to residential care is a prime time for the introduction of medication errors and delays, with resultant adverse patient outcomes. Given the level of care invested in stabilising older patients within the acute care setting prior to discharge, it is a shame that so much good work can come undone during the transition.

A recently conducted observational study in Australia confirms that strategies are needed to address gaps in the continuity of medication management for patients transferring from hospital to residential care facilities. The MedGap study, conducted over 12 weeks in 2 hospitals, looked at:

  • missed or significantly delayed doses;
  • residential care medication chart not written/updated in time for the first dose;
  • suitably packed medications not available for the first dose; and
  • residential care medication chart written/updated by a locum doctor.

Problems in these areas often arise due to the short window within which to prepare medication requirements in the residential setting; the median time from arrival at the residence to medication being required was 3 hours, with prn dosing often required earlier.

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RGH E-Bulletin: Bevacizumab for neovascular age-related macular degeneration : 27/02/2012 :

The topic of this week's RGH E‑Bulletin is Bevacizumab for neovascular age-related macular degeneration.

"Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness and severe visual impairment in adults over the age of 50. Neovascular AMD (nAMD) is caused by the growth of abnormal blood vessels under the macular which can cause haemorrhage and scarring, leading to severe vision loss. One of the mediators in the pathogenesis of neovascular AMD is vascular endothelial growth factor-A (VEGF) which facilitates the growth of these leaky blood vessels. New treatments have been developed to target the inhibition of this growth factor. The treatment of nAMD can include photodynamic therapy (PDT) with verteporfin, intravitreal pegaptanib or intravitreal ranibizumab. Ranibizumab is a recombinant monoclonal antibody fragment that binds to and blocks the biological active forms of VEGF."
 

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

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PBS spend remains subdued : 27/02/2012 :

PBS figures for January 2012, released by Medicare over the weekend, show a continuation of the recent downwards trend.

In January 2012 16.6 million PBS/RPBS scripts with a government reimbursement value of $727 million were dispensed across the country. This represents a decline of 6.2% on the 2011 figures of 17.7 million items and a 2.5% decline in the 2011 dollar spend of $746 million.

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NPS urges caution when switching brands : 24/02/2012 :

With the appearance on pharmacy shelves of generic atorvastatin imminent, NPS is urging consumers to be medicinewise when making a choice between medicine brands. 

“As new brands come onto the market, it is likely many people will be offered a choice of different medicine brands. It’s important people know that no matter what brand they choose, if the active ingredient and the size of the dose is the same the medicine will work the same in their body,” said NPS CEO Dr Lynn Weekes.

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Generic companies urge caution with bulk purchases : 23/02/2012 :

Citing its view that 2012 will see a highly competitive generics marketplace, the Generic Medicines Industry Association (GMiA) yesterday urged pharmacies not to be too quick to sign up to apparently attractive generic offers.

GMIA also cautioned that further government PBS policy changes could not be ruled out and, because of that, pharmacies should not commit to large generic purchases before the 2012 federal budget is handed down in May

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Sigma books up Pulse debt : 23/02/2012 :

In a statement to the stock exchange yesterday Sigma pharmaceuticals said it has booked a charge of $8 million in its balance sheet for 'doubtful debts to the Pulse group' of pharmacies.

Sigma said that, while it has been working with Pulse on 'refinancing and workout arrangements', a recent decision by Pulse receivers has negatively impacted on Sigma's position. The company says it is pursuing all legal avenues to recover the outstanding Pulse debt.

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Pharmacist CAM training limited : 23/02/2012 :

This week's poll outcome seems to confirm Rick Rogers opinion, expressed in a post on Monday, that most pharmacists' CAM training is limited.

Only 14% of respondents have completed university level post graduate specialised training.

On the other hand, these are just 'medicines' and their use involves the same principles as any other medicines. All pharmacists should have the skills to offer sound advice on the use of CAMs. Whether they do or not is another question....

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Improving dermatology skills at offshore refresher conference : 22/02/2012 :

It is well known that low vitamin D levels lead to osteomalacia and it is well accepted that vitamin D is important in the maintenance of bone health and in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis.
 
However, many additional claims have been made over the value of vitamin D and deficiency has been linked to conditions including cardiovascular disease, increased cancer risk and mortality, falls, sarcopenia, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, osteoarthritis, epilepsy and cognitive dysfunction.  It has been well established that vitamin D deficiency is common in the Australian population and many reasons have been suggested including lower levels of sun exposure for fear of developing skin cancers, older people remaining indoors, veiling and malabsorptive syndromes.

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GSK discloses 2011 payments to Australian healthcare professionals : 22/02/2012 :

As part of what it says is an 'on ongoing commitment to increase transparency', GlaxoSmithKline Australia yesterday disclosed the aggregate amount of fees paid to Australian healthcare professionals and health-related organisations for all sponsorships, grants, speaking engagements and consulting services during the calendar year of 2011.

The total amount was $2,209,171 and covers all parts of the GSK business in Australia, including Pharmaceuticals and Consumer Healthcare.

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More work to be done in reducing antibiotic resistance : 22/02/2012 :

Recent studies show that individuals are at risk of carrying antibiotic-resistant bacteria after a course of antibiotics, according to NPS, and the evidence linking community prescribing with antibiotic resistance in the patient is outlined in the latest issue of NPS News 77: Antibiotic resistance: a problem for everyone.

NPS CEO Dr Lynn Weekes says that reducing inappropriate prescribing of antibiotics in the community will help to limit the spread of antibiotic resistance.

But Dr Weekes says that prescribing is only one side of the antibiotic story: the other is reducing consumer demand for antibiotics – a view that is strongly supported by the World Health Organisation.

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Poll: training in complementary medicines : 22/02/2012 :

In a post to AusPharmList on Monday Rick Rogers called for a poll on the training pharmacists have had in complementary medicines.

Rick wrote: " As I look out at the 'walls' of such stock in this store, which by space and volume is more than the dispensary stock... and ... I often cringe when i hear other pharmacists start talking to patients about vitamins/minerals..."

What sort of training have you had in complementary medicines? Please let us know by voting in this week's AusPharm poll.

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March 2012 PBS schedule : 21/02/2012 :

The March PBS Schedule is now available

Download the Full PBS schedule

Download the PBS Summary of changes

Download the Efficient Funding of Chemotherapy – S100 Arrangements Supplement

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FeelGood goes under : 21/02/2012 :

The FeelGood Guide company yesterday announced that it was ceasing operations, effective from 5PM yesterday.

The company, driven by industry marketing veteran Hilary Kahn, aimed to shift pharmacies from a discounting transaction based business to a valued health destination in their local community. The company's system was designed to switch a pharmacy's focus from presenting product to putting the customer in control of what they should be doing and buying, rather than the imperative for staff to sell.

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eHealth brochures now available : 21/02/2012 :

In preparation for the launch of the eHealth records program on 1 July 2012, the Department of Health and Ageing has released brochures for consumers and health professionals.

The brochures explain eHealth records, outline what the key benefits an eHealth record bring and describes what consumers and health professionals need to do to get ready for 1 July 2012.

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Pharmacy stakeholders highlight PBS cost containment : 20/02/2012 :

That PBS costs actually fell in real terms in 2011 removes the need for further PBS reform say industry stakeholders. The Medicines Partnership of Australia says that as the industry moves through a time of significant change, pricing and policy predictability is paramount for the sector.

Growth in government expenditure on the PBS in 2011 was 2.4 per cent. Given the inflation rate in 2011 was 3.1 per cent, Government spending on the PBS in 2011 actually fell in real terms.  Low growth is likely to continue as another round of PBS reform price reductions on more than 200 medicines is due to take effect on 1 April 2012.

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GuildCare reaches half a million cases : 20/02/2012 :

500,000 cases have now been completed by the the 3,000 pharmacies who have purchased the GuildCare platform to record and report patient interactions according to 5CPA requirements.

According to Roma Cecere, General Manager, GuildCare “Reaching the half a million mark has been a significant milestone for us as it is evidence our platform is being embraced as the primary software for the recording and reporting of patient interactions according to 5CPA requirements.”

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Di-Gesic, Doloxene win a reprieve : 20/02/2012 :

Following an appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, TGA plans to remove Di-Gesic and Doloxene from the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG) on 1 March 2012 have been put on hold.

In December 2011, the TGA announced that, from 1 March 2012, all pain-killers containing dextropropoxyphene - Capadex, Di-Gesic, Doloxene and Paradex - would be removed from the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG).

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RGH E-Bulletin: Bisphosphonates for osteoporosis in renal impairment : 20/02/2012 :

The topic of this week's RGH E‑Bulletin is Bisphosphonates for osteoporosis in renal impairment.

"There is a lack of clinical trial data to inform use of bisphosphonates in patients with renal impairment (most trials exclude patients with a GFR <30mL/min). The Australian Advisory Committee on the Safety of Medicines (ACSOM) have received few reports of renal impairment/failure with IV pamidronate, or oral bisphosphonates risedronate and alendronate, but a significant number with zoledronic acid (31 from a total of 268 reports) are reported. Deterioration in renal function with IV bisphosphonates due to a rapid infusion rate has been suggested, but the reports did not appear to be related to a rapid infusion rate. Interstitial nephritis was described in three reports."

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

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PDL centenary celebrations underway : 20/02/2012 :

The first of this year's PDL national speakers series, being conducted as part of PDL's centenary celebrations, was held on 7 February in Brisbane.

Guest speaker, Michael Groom, one of the world's greatest 'big mountain' climbers spoke about 'overcoming the odds'. Those attending the event commented that he was most entertaining and was a welcome departure from the usual 'industry' speaker format.

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Academic calls for for further PBS reform : 20/02/2012 :

Australia could save hundreds of millions of dollars in PBS subsidies if generic medicines were prescribed more often and the system for pricing them was improved, according to an editorial published in today's Medical Journal of Australia.

Australia pays significantly more for generics — and prescribes proportionally far fewer of them — than many other countries, wrote Professor Philip Clarke of the Centre for Health Policy, Programs and Economics at the University of Melbourne.

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