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AusPharm news

CPD FAQs issued by peak body : 22/09/2010 :

Just about every provider of pharmacy Continuing Education, including AusPharm, has had a go at explaining what they think the new CPD requirements are under the Pharmacy Board of Australia's recently issued guidelines.

Yesterday, the Australian Pharmacy Liaison Forum (APLF) moved to end confusion caused by differing interpretations of the requirements being available by releasing a list of  frequently asked questions (FAQs) it has developed with the intent that no matter where pharmacists are accessing CPD support or information the same answers are available to a set of ‘standard’ and actually ‘frequently asked questions’.

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Pharmacist prescribing models - a world of options : 21/09/2010 :

UQ Assoc Prof Lisa Nissen will be presenting at PAC10 on a topic of keen interest to pharmacists seeking to maintain their professional edge. The session - entitled Pharmacist Prescribing - Optometrists, Nurses and Podiatrists Are Doing It, So How Close Are we? - will look at the current non-medical prescribing evidence and how it has been applied to the advancement of pharmacist prescribing in Australia.

Australia faces the challenge of the demands of an increasingly aged population outstripping available health resources.

“Other countries including the UK, Canada and the USA have moved to address similar health system issues by expanding the roles for existing health professionals, including nurse practitioners, optometrists, podiatrists and pharmacists,” Dr Nissen said. “This expansion has been particularly focused on providing access to prescription medicines.  There are many models of non-medical prescribing available and a number of health professional groups who have stepped up to the challenge."

Learn more about the different models for pharmacist prescribing by attending PAC10 in Melbourne, 28-31 October.

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RGH E-Bulletin: Intravesical therapy for interstitial cystitis : 21/09/2010 :

The topic of this week's RGH E‑Bulletin is Intravesical therapy for interstitial cystitis

"Interstitial cystitis, or painful bladder syndrome, is a chronic disease with multiple proposed etiologies and can be difficult to treat. This has been described in a previous e-bulletin (Volume 17(9): April 4, 2005). Symptoms of interstitial cystitis (urinary urgency, frequency and pain) can be controlled with several different classes of oral medications including pentosan polysulfate (only oral drug approved in Australia for this indication), amitriptyline, hydroxyzine and others. Intravesical therapies are available and may be used for patients who cannot achieve adequate symptom control with oral therapy."

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

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Poll: what constitutes a country pharmacy to you? : 21/09/2010 :

There has been some lively discussion recently on AusPharmList of the virtues and otherwise of working in either "the country" or "the city". There are many places in the middle that are not quite as clear cut as being all country or all city, especially given the greater access afforded many areas by improved transport, roads, telecoms and the advent of the internet.

We are told that there are plenty of job opportunities for the right pharmacist in "the country" or in "the bush".

With regard to pharmacy locations, what does "the country" or "the bush" mean to you?

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Research into HMRs confirms economic benefit : 21/09/2010 :

Pharmacy practice research conducted by UTas under the 4th CPA, has found that HMRs are a cost effective way of saving health resources and improving patients' quality of life.

In particular the VALMER study findings highlight that HMRs are most useful when community pharmacies identify particular patients likely to benefit e.g. those at high risk of adverse drug events. Targeted management of these patients with improved patient medication management, knowledge and compliance produced positive and cost-effective outcomes.

While this research had limitations, it was anticipated that further research over a longer period than 12 months and with greater assessment of the value of counselling provided during HMR interviews, would provide an even stronger economic case in support of HMRs.

The researchers recommended that resources be developed for accredited pharmacists to ensure that HMRs meet the expectations of GPs and patients, with an increased focus on individualising patient therapy.

The Pharmacy Guild has published this report, along with results of other R&D funded under the 4th CPA, on their website.

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Glucosamine fails the test : 21/09/2010 :

A meta analysis published in last week's BMJ has concluded that, compared with placebo, glucosamine, chondroitin, and their combination do not reduce arthritic pain. The meta analysis also concluded that there was no effect on the progressive narrowing of the joint space as arthritis progresses.

The authors recommend that health authorities and health insurers should not cover the costs of these preparations, and new prescriptions to patients who have not received treatment should be discouraged.

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Ask R U OK ? : 21/09/2010 :

Following its successful launch in 2009, R U OK? will be running a further day of action in 2010 on 7 October, aiming to increase awareness of depression and encourage conversation to steer people toward support and help.

R U OK? is an independent, not-for-profit organisation that aims to give national focus and leadership for ending suicide, by empowering Australians to make a difference, encouraging open and honest communication and driving real connection.

In 2010, R U OK's key message is that in the time it takes to have a coffee you can start a conversation that could change a life. This year's awareness campaign is focused on workplaces, given that many Australians spend much of their time at work.

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Self Care program developments : 20/09/2010 :

PSA's Self Care Program is continuing to expand and develop with a number of exciting innovations due to come on stream in the next few months.

The Self Care program, Australia's leading health information and education program for pharmacy, is designed to give member pharmacies a competitive and professional edge over competitors, while providing customers with  services and advice that is second to none.

Among recent initiatives, the Self Care program has launched its new pharmacy membership package which provides more value to members, greater access to the program’s resources and encourages greater use of the program’s key resources. The new pharmacy membership package makes the program more economical in an increasingly competitive health information and health education environment.

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University of Sydney Anniversary Celebration for Pharmacy Faculty : 20/09/2010 :

The Faculty of Pharmacy invites former students and staff to join them in celebrating ten years as a Faculty, and 111 years of pharmacy education at the University of Sydney. A formal dinner will be held in the MacLaurin Hall on Thurs 7 October 2010 at 7pm, with live music, key speakers and pharmacy trivia!

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Pharmacists finding solutions for patients with pain : 19/09/2010 :

Pain is a natural consequence of tissue injury and is one of the most common reasons for a patient to seek medical care and in Australia there are more than a million people living with pain each day.  It has been reported that at any one time between 20-30 per cent of the population may be experiencing chronic pain, while almost all of us will experience it at some point over our lifetime.

The importance of pharmacists finding solutions for patients with pain will be examined by Dr Lisa Nissen in the PAC10 advanced clinical session on pain.

Dr Nissen, an Associate Professor in the University of Queensland, said the term "pain" was used to describe the signalling system involved in the physical response to a painful stimulation together with the cognitive, emotional and behavioural actions that occur as a result of this stimulation.

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Summary produced of 4th CPA funded pharmacy practice R&D projects : 17/09/2010 :

An overview and summary of the findings of the 24 pharmacy practice research projects funded under the 4th CPA has been published in a resource document by the Pharmacy Guild.

Explaining the importance of continued funding for this type of research under the 5th CPA, Kos Sclavos said “the Fourth Agreement R&D Program focused on conducting research in the ‘real world’ of community pharmacy, with a strong emphasis on the use of new technologies and pharmacist expertise to build on the strength of community pharmacy."

The publication is called The Fourth Community Pharmacy Agreement Research and Development Program: Overview and Findings. It's available here (bottom of the page).

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Should a direct referral model for HMRs be implemented? : 17/09/2010 :

This week's poll results are clearly in favour of adding direct remuneration of pharmacists to the existing HMR model  (67%), with a further 25% feeling that direct referral should be the only remuneration avenue.

Perhaps if the merits of retaining payment through pharmacies had been more clearly espoused in the preamble to the poll, the results would have been different. AusPharm would be interested in seeing this discussed further on AusPharmList.

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New medicines: PAC10 to summarise significant recent releases : 16/09/2010 :

One of the final sessions of PAC210 in Melbourne this year will also be one of the most important for pharmacists trying to keep abreast of fast-changing developments in medicines.

A session titled New Drugs - A Summary of Recent Releases will be presented on Sunday afternoon, October 31, by Honorary Associate professor Luis Roller from the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at Monash University.

The session will deal with the modes of action, evidence for efficacy,  indications, contraindications, adverse reactions, drug interactions, dose forms, doses, place in therapy and counselling points of eight recently released or about-to-be-released medicines.

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Trips to the bank - safety reminder : 16/09/2010 :

Launceston's Examiner has run a front page story of a violent attack by two males on a young pharmacy employee at 3pm last Friday, as she returned from the bank with around $300 in change. The attack took place in a walkway leading to the pharmacy.

The suspects have since been arrested and charged with aggravated robbery. Our thoughts go to the pharmacy staff member for a full and speedy recovery.

AusPharm canvassed listers in June 2010 with a poll regarding the safety aspects of doing banking; the outcome served to alert some pharmacies to the need to tighten up current practices. This recent case highlights the fact that you don't have to be carrying thousands of dollars to be a potential target. While attacks can be opportunistic, ensuring trips to the bank are not done at the same time every day, by the same staff, following the same route and in a way that indicates they may be carrying anything remotely valuable can make this essential part of running a pharmacy a little safer.

It's worth taking a few minutes to think about what simple steps could be taken in your pharmacy to reduce the likelihood of this kind of incident.

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Final blog from Jana Fulcher at FIP : 16/09/2010 :

'Listers will recall that Jana Fulcher was recently chosen as the 2010 recipient of the IMS Health - Australian College of Pharmacy Young Pharmacist Innovation Grant. Jana's grant paid for her to attend this year's FIP Conference, currently underway in Lisbon. She has justsent her final comments along.....

"From talking to other pharmacists from such a variety of countries it is clearly evident that the entire global pharmacy market is evolving.

For some nations the change is the formation of good practice guidelines and on the other end of the spectrum it is the increasing use of technology and professional service provision. What we all have in common though is the desire to evolve."

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Smoking cessation - online program to brush up on support skills : 16/09/2010 :

The 25% increase in tobacco taxes on 28 April 2010 was the incentive many smokers needed to renew their quit attempts. To enable pharmacists to brush up their counselling skills and support new requests for help in quitting, Pfizer has funded a no-cost, online learning program, 'Smoking Conversations'.

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Info paper on leukotriene receptor antagonists in children updated : 16/09/2010 :

The National Asthma Council of Australia has updated their information paper on use of leukotriene receptor antagonists in childhood asthma, to reflect the latest clinical findings. The paper can be downloaded from the NACA website now; hard copies will be posted to all GPs and pharmacists in the coming months.

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AHPRA news - renewals, response times & employer service : 15/09/2010 :

Explaining some of the difficulties in reaching the AHPRA call centre, the agency reports that during August their call centre received 50,000 phone calls and responded to over 14,000 email and web queries. AHPRA states that their response systems have improved markedly with over 70% of enquiries now dealt with in the initial phone call, and that they are meeting their target of responding to all web queries within 48 hours.

All pharmacists with annual registration due before 30 September 2010 can now renew online, regardless of whether they have received a renewal notice. If your registration is due at the end of September, you can call AHPRA on 1300 419 495; once they have established your identity, they will give you your user ID and password so you can renew your registration online. If you renew online your renewal is processed automatically unless you make adverse declarations. If so, you will be renewed once your declarations are reviewed.

APHRA is also processing a large volume of paper renewal applications, and has published information about the arrangments for these on their website, in the document Easy online registration for practitioners.

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PSA welcomes new government's health portfolio appointments : 15/09/2010 :

PSA has welcomed the reappointment of Nicola Roxon as Minister for Health and Ageing, seeing it as a vote of confidence by the government in continuing the health reform program.

"PSA has strongly supported the Government's initiatives to reform primary care and encourage a more collaborative approach to health care services" said PSA president Warwick Plunkett. "The needs of patients are best served by the seamless integration of care, a process whereby all members of the health care team work together unhindered by funding sources and sectoral interests."

Recognising the appointment of Mark Butler as Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, PSA believes that "the establishment of a portfolio with direct responsibility for mental health is well overdue and we strongly support the Prime Minister's initiative in this area. The appointment of Mr Butler to this new portfolio should help to drive reform to the funding and provision of mental health services and will hopefully offer new ways of overcoming the large unmet need for these services."

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Industry responds to Danish diclofenac findings : 15/09/2010 :

Industry representatives have issued a response to widespread media reports of a Danish study's findings that diclofenac increased the risk of stroke by 86% in people not previously thought to be at risk.

The observational study reviewed medical record data of the Danish population from 1997 to 2005, examining the use of common pain relievers, including a diclofenac and ibuprofen, and the incidence of cardiovascular risk.

ASMI, the non-prescription medicines industry body said "it is important to recognise that the pain relievers examined were supplied on a doctor's prescription and hence often taken in higher doses, which translates to a higher risk. They were also taken for longer periods than recommended for OTC use. On average, people in the study took NSAIDs for 14 days." ASMI'S Regulatory and Scientific Affairs Director, Steven Scarff said that unlike the pattern of use on which the Danish study was based, in Australia NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen and diclofenac, are available without a prescription at low doses for short-term use in self-limiting conditions.

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