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AusPharm news

Poll: evidence based practice and you : 08/12/2010 :

In a post to AusPharmList last week Debbie Rigby wrote:

"Our skill as a pharmacist is to understand the evidence, interpret the evidence in the context of the individual patient, recognise the limitations of studies and levels of evidence, and THEN use our knowledge and experience to use the evidence wisely in a patient who may have different characteristics to the study population and multiple morbidities. This is evidence-based practice."

Do you believe you have the skills to do this? Please let us know by ticking the relevant box in this week's AusPharm poll.

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No reduction in GP prescriptions of antibiotics for colds since 2004 : 08/12/2010 :

While there was a sudden fall in GP prescribing of antibiotics for colds between 1998–99 and 2003-04, there has been no change since then, according to two reports released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and the University of Sydney.

In other findings from the two reports, chronic problems accounted for more than one-third of all problems managed by GPs in 2009–10, and in almost 40% of encounters with general practitioners, two or more problems were managed.

Medications were the most common treatment choice (69 per 100 problems managed). Most medications were prescribed (54 per 100), rather than supplied directly by the GP (9 per 100) or suggested for over-the-counter purchase (6 per 100).

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Union campaign on work rights, in face of abuses by pharmacy employers : 07/12/2010 :

Following an abnormally high number of work place issues raised with APESMA by pharmacy members since January 2010, the Pharmacists Division of APESMA (PDA) is launching a 'Protect your rights at work' campaign. As part of this campaign, PDA members will be contacted by the union to survey the level of non-compliance with workplace requirements and abuse of employee rights.

With the introduction of the new Pharmacy Industry Award in January 2010, the union (APEMSA) has been contacted by over 150 pharmacy members with workplace issues including underpayment of award salary and entitlements, unfair dismissals and cases of bullying and discrimination arising from members asking about their entitlements under the new Award.


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Updated national competency standards for pharmacists released : 07/12/2010 :

Coordinated by the PSA, the National Competency Standards Framework for Pharmacists in Australia has undergone a thorough review thanks to the collaborative efforts of a broad cross-section of the profession. Features of the updated framework document include:

  • consolidation of 8 Domains (previously Functional Areas) and 33 Standards to represent the total competency framework for the profession;
  • strengthening the Standards, in particular those relating to: leadership and management; extemporaneous preparation; researchers and educators; collaboration; primary and preventive health care;
  • clear articulation of performance criteria expected at initial registration;
  • highlighting the importance and relevance of the competency standards to all stages of a pharmacist's professional life; and
  • introducing the concept of advanced practice to the profession.

With the Pharmacy Board's CPD requirements in mind, the document also outlines how pharmacists can develop their professional practice profile and the competencies required for specific roles, positions or services. The updated publication is available at www.psa.org.au/competencystandards. Copies will be distributed to all pharmacist registrants by the Pharmacy Board of Australia.

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ACT Guild President to head Women and Young Pharmacists Committee : 07/12/2010 :

The ACT Branch President of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, Amanda Galbraith, has been appointed chair of the Guild’s Women and Young Pharmacists Committee.

The Guild’s National Council made the appointment, acknowledging Ms Galbraith’s significant contribution as a Guild National Councillor since 2009. 

Ms Galbraith takes the position following the tragic death in July of Judy Liauw, the Tasmanian Branch President who worked so tirelessly to encourage pharmacists to enter community pharmacy and to promote the best interests of women pharmacists, particularly in regional and rural areas.

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Wholesalers assess impact of Pfizer prescription distribution decision : 07/12/2010 :

Sigma, API and Symbion Pharmacy Services are assessing the ramifications of the body blow dealt them by Pfizer's decision to distribute prescription products direct to community pharmacies from 31 January 2011.

Coming on top of the revenue impact anticipated by the recently agreed PBS cost reductions over 2010-2015, the Pfizer move will have a major impact on wholesaler operations.

API has issued a statement that they expect annual revenues to be negatively affected by the Pfizer decision in the order of 10-15%. While still determining the implications of these decisions, they "will put in place measures to address the impact of these changes by reducing customer trading terms, and reviewing its cost base."

Symbion Pharmacy Services is conducting an immediate review of pricing structures.

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Pfizer to deal direct : 06/12/2010 :

Pfizer Australia announced on Friday that, commencing January 31, 2011, its products will no longer be available through pharmacy wholesalers. From that date, community pharmacies will only be able to purchase Pfizer prescription medicines directly from Pfizer.

Pfizer will support the move by establishing a dedicated pharmacy field force and expanding its customer service team.

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Pharmacy Board releases statement on intern registration delays : 06/12/2010 :

The Pharmacy Board of Australia released a statement late on Friday saying it has agreed with its parent body AHPRA on initiatives 'to support the efficient registration of pharmacy interns'.

“The Board and AHPRA recognise this is an anxious time for pharmacy interns as they work to secure a role in a competitive employment market,” Pharmacy Board of Australia Chair, Mr Stephen Marty said. “We have identified a range of initiatives that AHPRA can put in place to make the registration process as efficient as possible,” he added.

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Calcium / Vitamin D supplementation: yes or no? : 06/12/2010 :

Whether or not calcium and/or Vitamin D is appropriate for particular patient groups is once again at the forefront of health practitioner debate following the publication last week of a new review article.

The review was sponsored by the US and Canadian governments and conducted by the US Institure of Medicine and confirms the roles of calcium and vitamin D in promoting skeletal growth and maintenance and the amounts needed to avoid poor bone health.

However, the group that wrote the report also reviewed hundreds of studies and reports on other possible health effects of vitamin D for which the evidence is not as strong.

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RGH E-Bulletin: Opioid-induced hyperalgesia : 06/12/2010 :

The topic of this week's RGH E‑Bulletin is Opioid-induced hyperalgesia

"Diminished opioid analgesic efficacy during the course of continuing or extended opioid therapy has long been considered a sign of pharmacological opioid tolerance or alternatively attributed to the worsening of an existing pain state. However, recent clinical evidence suggests that opioids may induce or contribute to a paradoxical pain sensitivity; opioid-induced hyperalgesia (OIH)."

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

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2010 Lifetime Achievement Award winner further honoured... : 03/12/2010 :

The Federation of Asian Pharmaceutical Associations has awarded Managing Director of Webstercare, Gerard Stevens the international FAPA Ishidate Award for Community Pharmacy for 2010.

In offering congratulations, Prof Iqbal Ramzan, (Dean, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Sydney) said  “Mr Stevens is not only a very successful community pharmacist but has taken this role to new heights through his company Webstercare, which aims to enhance the quality use of medicines for all Australians. His bold move into Drug Administration Aids with Webstercare has had a tremendous impact for many Australians but particularly those in older age groups and those in aged care facilities who previously struggled with the management of their medicine regimes."

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National report on drug treatment services : 03/12/2010 :

Results of a national review of publicly funded alcohol and other drug treatment services and their clients in 2008–09 have been published today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

The report, entitled Alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia 2008–09: Report on the National Minimum Data Set, shows that of all the types of drugs that treatment was provided for, alcohol continued to be the most prevalent, with counselling the most common form of treatment.

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Poll - pharmacies selling 'junk' : 03/12/2010 :

This week's AusPharm poll showed an unequivocal majority vote for the view that the peripheral "stuff" being sold in pharmacies does besmirch the health professional reputation of pharmacists.

Almost 90% of voting pharmacists felt that the fact that many pharmacies sell lots of "junk" is an impediment to pharmacists being seen as health professionals to some degree.

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Professor Andrew McLachlan on TGA review panel : 03/12/2010 :

As we reported earlier this week, the terms of reference for the review of the way in which the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) communicates its regulatory processes and decisions have been published.

The members of the review panel have now been named (here). The review panel will be chaired by Professor Dennis Pearce AO. Professor Pearce is a former Commonwealth Ombudsman, former Chair of the Australian Press Council and is Special Counsel, DLA Phillips Fox lawyers. He has conducted numerous reviews for both the Australian and ACT governments.

There are 5 members representing consumer groups and a number representing various industry sectors and health practitioner organisations. Pharmacist and Chair of The National Medicines Policy (NMP) Committee, Professor Andrew McLachlan (pictured at right), is one of the review panel members.

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AusPharm CE: RGH E-Bulletin Digest No. 31 : 02/12/2010 :

The next in our 2010 series of continuing education activities is the RGH E-Bulletin Digest No. 31.

This CE activity assesses your understanding of four recent RGH Pharmacy E-Bulletins (Volumes 40-3 - 40-6  -->  October / November 2010).

After completing this activity, pharmacists should be able to:

  • Understand the clinical pharmacology of PDE4 inhibitors
  • Discuss factors contributing to the development of drug-induced lupus erythematosis
  • Describe the basis for hyperprolactinaemia secondary to antipsychotics
  • Understand the basis for hypogonadism related to long-term opioid treatment

Click here to do this Continuing Education activity. Or, if you prefer, you might like to take a look at our other CE activities here .

AusPharm gratefully acknowledges the financial support provided by MIMs.

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MIMS Monthly Medicine Update : 02/12/2010 :

The MIMS December 2010 Monthly Medicine Update is now available. Click the link to read it now.

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Combination codeine analgesics continue to be under pressure : 02/12/2010 :

Despite the recent rescheduling that had the effect of markedly increased professional supervision and intervention opportunities when combination codeine analgesics are supplied, these products continue to make media headlines.

Most recently, a call for labelling such products with warnings such as "can cause addiction" was made by Claire Tobin (PhD student, School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University). Ms Tobin was presenting a paper at this week's conference of the Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs.

The media reported the identical story from AAP which can be found in The Australian, Sydney Morning Herald, SBS World News, and others.

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New issue Australian Prescriber - non-medico prescribing rights and more : 02/12/2010 :

The December 2010 issue of the Australian Prescriber is now available online. Topics featured in this issue include:

  • Lisa Nissen and Greg Kyle on granting prescribing rights to non-medical professionals
  • Terri Foran on effectively managing menopausal symptoms
  • Geraldine Moses and Treasure McGuire on interactions between allopathic and complementary medicines
  • Compression therapy for venous disease - when and when not to use it, and to what degree.
  • Debbie Rigby on the need for increasing collaboration between pharmacists and prescribers, and how to achieve this
  • Medication Safety Update: lamotrigine and serious skin reactions - serotonin syndrome - drug-induced acute akathisia - interactions between etonogestrel implant (Implanon) and carbamazepine.

To view these articles and others go to www.australianprescriber.com.

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New President of PSA Queensland branch : 02/12/2010 :

The Queensland Branch Committee of the PSA has elected Bruce Elliot as the new State President effective 1st December 2010.  Bruce takes over from Dr Lisa Nissen who begins a sabbatical overseas in mid-December.  
Bruce is the Managing Partner of four community pharmacies within the ChemCoast Pharmacy Group in Yeppoon in Central Queensland.    He is also an accredited consultant pharmacist who has a major clinical interest in aged care, and finds this a rewarding part of his role.

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Poll: pharmacies selling 'junk' : 01/12/2010 :

Back in the 1960s the then Commonwealth Department of Health Secretary Arthur Shields is reputed to have said that "as long as pharmacies continue to sell paperbacks and pantyhose we (DoH) can not treat them as professionals." The Guild response to that was said to have been that "until we are appropriately compensated by the NHS we would have to continue to sell these things".

Is the fact that many pharmacies still sell all sorts of 'junk' stopping the DoH, other health professionals and the general public from seeing pharmacists as health professionals? Please let us know what you think by voting in this week's AusPharm poll.

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