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AusPharm news

TGA head departs : 29/12/2011 :

Head of the Therapeutic Goods Administration, Dr Rohan Hammett, pictured right, has retired from the position.

The announcement, made late on Friday December 23, follows a torrid few years for the TGA which saw them successfully sued for $67.5 million in compensation to Pan Pharmaceuticals' customers and service providers who lost money because of the company's closure following the TGA recall of Pan's products in 2003. That settlement followed a $50 million payout by the government to Pan chief executive Jim Selim in 2008.

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2011 PBS scripts numbers down, dollars slightly up : 28/12/2011 :

PBS statistics for November 2011 have been released by Medicare Australia.

Script numbers were down compared to November 2010 (15.0 v 18.6 million) as were absolute ($649 million v $762 million).

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Prescribers urged to review patients taking simvastatin 80 mg/day : 28/12/2011 :

NPS is encouraging prescribers to review patients currently taking simvastatin 80 mg daily, following changes to the prescribing information for the medicine issued by the TGA.
 
The TGA recommendations were made in response to a US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) review of safety data, which found that people taking high dose simvastatin ­ 80 mg daily ­ had a greater risk of myopathy and rhabdomyolysis than people taking lower doses of the medicine.

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Chapman departs ACP - Bergin new GM : 28/12/2011 :

Australian College of Pharmacy CEO, John Chapman, pictured right, has resigned from the position, effective 31 January 2012.

Mr Chapman said that it had been a privilege and an honour to work with the members of the College for their benefit and that of pharmacy.

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No such thing as a complete break these days : 23/12/2011 :

70% of the respondents to this week's AusPharm poll told us they stay in touch with work at a minimum to deal with 'important' matters.

Hopefully those people *will* manage to wind down a little over the next few days!

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Single dose famciclovir to go S3 for cold sores : 23/12/2011 :

In a decision released this week, the Advisory Committee of Medicines Scheduling has recommended that famciclovir for oral use, in divided preparations containing a total dose of 1500 mg or less of famciclovir for the treatment of herpes labialis (cold sores) be down-scheduled to Schedule 3.

The new scheduling is expected to take effect on May 1, 2012.

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Pharmacist wages stagnate : 23/12/2011 :

Released this week, the Pharmacists Division of APESMA (PDA) 2011 pharmacist wages survey shows that the average community pharmacist hourly wage rate (across all categories) has declined over the last 12 months from $38.20 to $37.90 (full time rate, not casual rate). This is the first time in the 11 history of the survey that wages have declined.

Commenting on the result, CEO of APESMA, Chris Walton, said “Given that inflation is rising at 3.5 per cent and the average Australian wage is going up by 4.9 per cent it is clear that pharmacists are being left behind."

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Health professionals reminded to be alert to methotrexate risks : 22/12/2011 :

NPS is reminding health professionals to be alert to the risks associated with the use of oral methotrexate.
 
Methotrexate has been used for many years in the treatment of some cancers.  Increasingly low dose methotrexate is being prescribed for the treatment of autoimmune or inflammatory disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and severe psoriasis where it is usually taken as a weekly dose.  This can present difficulties for some people in making sure they take the correct dose on the correct day.  If the weekly dose is exceeded this may result in a high rate of adverse events, sometimes resulting in fatal toxicity.

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Australian Prescriber: two viewpoints on deferring PBAC recommendations : 22/12/2011 :

Earlier in 2011 the government deferred the listing of seven medicines and one vaccine on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). Two opinion pieces examining this issue are now available on the website of Australian Prescriber.

The articles — Deferring PBAC decisions: industry view by Brendan Shaw, Chief Executive, Medicines Australia andDeferring PBAC decisions: rationing as a reality by Rob Moulds, Medical adviser, Therapeutic Guidelines Ltd — provide two differing views about the decision by government to defer the listing of these medicines.

 

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40% growth in eRx transactions in 2011 : 22/12/2011 :

Electronic prescription use has soared throughout 2011, with eRx Script Exchange transactions growing by 40% overall and this week hitting a new record of 750,000 prescriptions dispensed in any one day.

Electronic dispense transactions have peaked in the lead up to Christmas, with eRx set to achieve a second milestone of more than 4.2 million dispensing transactions in a single week during this pre-Christmas week. Both this Friday, traditionally the biggest dispensing day of the year and the rush to beat the safety net year-end deadline are likely to contribute to several other new records by the end of 2011.

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Pulse down? : 21/12/2011 :

AusPharm understands that receivers have been appointed to a number of Pulse badged pharmacies around Australia.

The move follows the announcement in November that PPB Advisory had been appointed as receivers and managers of Pulse Pharmacy Pty Ltd, the property company that holds a number of head leases for locations across Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.

While the details of exactly which pharmacies are involved remain unclear, AusPharm understands receivers have taken over a number of pharmacies in Victoria and Queensland in the last week.

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Poll: staying in touch while on holidays : 21/12/2011 :

With Christmas approaching, no doubt many 'listers will be taking a break from the daily grind.

How closely will you stay in touch with your 'normal' life / job?

Please let us know by ticking the relevant box in this week's AusPharm poll.

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Pharmas laud April 1 cuts : 21/12/2011 :

Medicines Australia says that the April 1 2012 price cuts to PBS medicines will yield taxpayers major savings that will keep the PBS affordable, while providing the Government with the capacity to list new medicines in the future.

Medicines Australia chief executive Dr Brendan Shaw said the latest price cuts, coupled with this month’s Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook which forecast lower than expected PBS spending to the tune of $1.8 billion means the Government will save hundreds of millions of dollars in PBS costs in coming years.

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Pfizer disputes CSO wholesaler claims : 21/12/2011 :

Pfizer has dismissed claims by the CSO wholesalers that it will not be able to reliably supply Pfizer medicines to pharmacies over the Christmas / New Year period, saying  it has been working closely with community pharmacies around Australia since the beginning of December to ensure they have sufficient stock to cover the holiday period.
 
“Pharmacies have a good understanding of their own stock requirements. Our experience confirms they have carefully planned ahead for the December/January holiday period," said a Pfizer spokesperson.

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Retirement of Medicines Australia chairman Will Delaat : 21/12/2011 :

Medicines Australia chairman Will Delaat announced today that he will retire from the position in February 2012.

Mr Delaat has served on the board of Medicines Australia since 1998 and has been chairman since 2008. He was previously chairman between 2003 and 2005.

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Consumers Health Forum says well done on April 1 PBS price reductions - re-iterates support for Senate Inquiry into CPA5 : 21/12/2011 :

Following this week's release of the details of the April 1 2012 PBS price reductions, the Consumers Health Forum (CHF) says that the government is to be commended for making medicines more affordable and saving tax payers millions of dollars.

Carol Bennett, CHF CEO said, ‘this is a good outcome for health consumers and needs to be acknowledged. It also indicates that there are areas in the current health budget where savings can be made while still delivering high quality affordable health care to Australians.’

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Paracetamol: Repeated excessive ingestion – recognise and treat quickly : 20/12/2011 :

Repeatedly taking slightly too much paracetamol over time can cause a dangerous overdose that is difficult to spot, but puts the person at danger of dying. Patients may not come to hospital reporting the overdose, but because they feel unwell. This clinical situation needs to be recognized and treated rapidly because these patients are at even greater danger than people who take single overdoses.

These so-called staggered overdoses can occur when people have pain and repeatedly take a little more paracetamol than they should. “They haven’t taken the sort of single-moment, one-off massive overdoses taken by people who try to commit suicide, but over time the damage builds up, and the effect can be fatal,” says Dr Kenneth Simpson who publishes the findings of a recent research project in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.

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New report highlights Australian breastfeeding patterns : 20/12/2011 :

Almost all Australian infants commence breastfeeding but most do not continue as long as recommended, according to a new report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

The report, 2010 Australian National Infant Feeding Survey: Indicator results, presents results from the first large-scale, specialised, national survey of infant feeding practices and related attitudes.

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Three Queensland pharmacists receive PSA fellowships : 20/12/2011 :

Three leading Queensland pharmacists - Lisa Nissen, Bruce Elliot and Geraldine Moses - have been elevated to the status of Fellows of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia.
 
National President of PSA, Grant Kardachi, said Dr Moses was elevated to a Fellow of the Society for exceptional service to the profession of pharmacy and to the PSA through her contribution on the Queensland Branch Council and Committee over nine years and for her commitment to CPD across the state of Queensland.

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Summer edition Bulletin Board published : 19/12/2011 :

The summer edition of Medicare Australia's Bulletin Board has been published on the Medicare website.

It includes articles on:

  • New Compliance Program to be released
  • PBS online education is just a click away
  • Capturing data for streamlined authority medicines
  • Supplying PBS medicines without a prescription in specific circumstances
  • Simplifying claiming for PBS and RPBS medicines in residential aged care facilities
  • Update ­ Pharmacy Practice Incentives Program
  • Update ­ Medication Management Review Programs

and more. Read it here.

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