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AusPharm news

PBS scripts, dollars spike in September : 26/10/2010 :

PBS figures for September 2010 have been released by Medicare Australia.

Script numbers were up 9.6% compared to Septembert 2009 with absolute dollars also up by 12.1%..

Year to date figures show a small increase in script numbers of 0.3% and growth in dollar terms of 6.2%.

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Students bleed for the cause : 25/10/2010 :

The National Australian Pharmacy Students’ Association (NAPSA) had a record number of blood donations in the 2010 Vampire Cup blood drive with 181 donations obtained from pharmacy students across Australia. Eleven of NAPSA’s fourteen branches participated in this year’s Vampire Cup initiative which ran from 23rd August to 1st October.

The Annual Vampire Cup aims to raise awareness of blood donations, combat the continual need for blood in Australia, and foster community spirit amongst Australian pharmacy students.

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ASMI critical of JAMA fish oil study : 25/10/2010 :

Following the publication in the Journal of the American Medical Association last week of a study which suggests that pregnant women taking fish oil supplements do not reduce their risk of post-natal depression nor assist the cognitive development of their babies, the Australian Self-Medication Industry (ASMI), the industry body representing non-prescription consumer healthcare products, were quick to issue a statement over the weekend pointing out what they see as flaws in the study.

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RGH E-Bulletin: Aspirin interactions and cautionary labelling : 24/10/2010 :

The topic of this week's RGH E‑Bulletin is Aspirin interactions and cautionary labelling

"In Australia, pharmacists use Cautionary and Advisory Labels (CALs) when dispensing to provide written reinforcement of important counselling points for particular medicines. The 10a CAL “Do not take more than one aspirin tablet or capsule each day while being treated with this medicine” is used for a number of medications that are reported to interact with aspirin (with the exception of warfarin which is labelled with the 10b CAL “Do not take aspirin while being treated with this medicine unless advised by your doctor”). Whilst some medications that interact with aspirin are well known, others are less so.  Some of these medications and the reason behind their interaction are summarised in the table below."

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

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Gala dinner completes the PAC10 experience : 23/10/2010 :

The Gala Dinner of the Pharmacy Australia Congress has long been one of the highlights of the annual event.
 
After a couple of days of educational sessions and workshops, participants traditionally relish the opportunity to relax with their friends and peers before heading into the final day of the Congress on Sunday.
 
This year’s dinner is being held for the first time in the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre’s Banquet Room, a purpose-build venue which will even further enhance the enjoyment level of the dinner.
 
Entertainment, fine food and wine, and the opportunity to dance, talk to or just relax with your friends and colleagues are all features of the Gala Dinner.

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Homeopathic A&E - this week's joke of the week! : 22/10/2010 :

The way the world would be if homeopathic remedies were use in hospital emergency departments.

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Blackmores powers along : 22/10/2010 :

Regardless of whether or not you think most of Blackmore's products are nothing more than expensive placebos, the company's business continues to go from strength to strength.

At its Annual General Meeting, held in Sydney yesterday, the company confirmed that, for financial year 2009/10, its net profit after tax rose by 17% to $24.3 million on the back of sales growth of 7% (to $215 million). It says that it expects 'modest profit growth' in 2011/12 and has started the year well with first quarter net profit after tax up 13% on the back of 11% sales growth.

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Less than 1/3 of pharmacists actively engage with scheduling decisions : 22/10/2010 :

This week's AusPharm poll asked 'listers how closely they invloved themselves in medicine scheduling decisions. The results, based on a poor voter turnout, show that less than 1/3 of respondents engage personally with the process, with the majority preferring to leave these issues to others to deal with or just go with the flow.

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Lots of intern training programs to choose from in 2011 : 22/10/2010 :

The Pharmacy Guild announced yesterday that it too would be offering an intern training program in 2011, although not in all states. The Guild's program is based on that offered by the Pharmacy Board of Tasmania over the last 10 years.

The Australian Pharmacy Council has accredited five intern training programs. These will be offered in 2011 by Monash University, the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia, the University of South Australia and the University of Sydney.

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TGA website redevelopment: consultation on content and structure : 21/10/2010 :

The Therapeutic Goods Administration has launched a consultation on options for the redevelopment of its website. It is also seeking input from those who engage with it on their preferred methods of receiving communications from the TGA.

The deadline for submissions is December 1. Details are here.

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AusPharm CE: Crushing tablets – issues to consider : 21/10/2010 :

The latest AusPharm CE topic is Crushing tablets – issues to consider - it's been put together for us by Dr Jenny Gowan.

"Crushing tablets to make them easier to swallow could make them less effective or cause a greater risk of toxicity and potential adverse effects. Many older people find it difficult to swallow medicines whole and patients or their carers in the home setting commonly crush drugs to make them easier to take. The importance of asking questions about swallowing difficulties linked with their medical conditions must be given greater emphasis by doctors, and pharmacists."

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 the sponsors of our CE program, MIMS.

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Counterfeit online medicine sales - Interpol operation : 21/10/2010 :

During the week of 5 October 2010, Interpol coordinated a global operation across 40 countries to take action against the online sale of counterfeit and illegal medicines. The 3rd operation of its kind, the objective of Operation Pangea III was as much to raise consumer awareness of the risks of purchasing medicine online as it was to catch criminals behind online counterfeit medicine operations.

During the operation, 694 websites were identified engaged in illegal activity, 290 of which have now been shut down. Of some 268,000 packages that were inspected by regulators and customs, almost 11,000 were seized and just over a million illicit and counterfeit pills were confiscated - including antibiotics, steroids, antidepressants, anti-cancer and anti-epileptic tablets, as well as slimming or food supplement tablets. 76 individuals are under investigation or arrest for a range of offences, including illegally selling and supplying unlicensed or prescription-only medicine.

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Big Pharma keeps the R&D policy pressure on : 21/10/2010 :

Peak Australian Pharma body Medicines Australia issued a statement yesterday spruiking the merits of a new report released by Lateral Economics that underscores the social and economic value of medical research and development.

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Language difficulties can lead to further health problems : 21/10/2010 :

Health information can be difficult for anyone without a medical degree to understand, but for people with English as a second language it can be even more challenging – and have significant consequences.

The latest edition of the NPS publicaton MedicinesTalk includes useful information for health professionals and people caring for anyone from a culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) background.

“A quarter of all Australians were born overseas, many in countries with different languages, cultures and beliefs about health and medicines,” NPS CEO, Dr Lynn Weekes said.

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Poll: how involved do you get in scheduling decisions? : 20/10/2010 :

Rescheduling decisions can change the face of pharmacy, have a significant impact on the ability of pharmacists and pharmacy assistants to offer effective solutions to common problems, and have substantial cost implications. For example, currently under consideration is the up-scheduling of cough and cold ingredients which will affect just about every cough/cold product currently sold in pharmacy. The record of reasons, or reasons for delegate's decisions, behind scheduling decisions reflect how complex these issues can be, and give some insight into which are the overriding factors that tip a decision a certain way.

Although new processes and committees for making scheduling changes to the Poisons Standard took effect from 1 July 2010, the purpose of this area of regulation and the ability for input from pharmacists remains. One of the aspects of the process that has changed, is that the new Advisory Committee for Medicines Scheduling (ACMS) will comprise expert advisory members, rather than representatives of specific fields as was the case with the former NDPSC (National Drugs & Poisons Scheduling Committee). Membership of the new ACMS is yet to be finalised; the delay is due to the Federal Election and associated extended caretaker period.

Given the impact that scheduling changes to the Poisons Standard can have on pharmacy, balanced with the 'not enough hours in the day' problem of most practising pharmacists, how involved do you get in scheduling changes before they are fait accompli?

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Pharmacy-based flu vaccination : 20/10/2010 :

Pharmacists perform an important primary care role in the provision of information regarding vaccinations and also identifying appropriate patients who should receive vaccinations.
 
Following a highly successful trial in Tasmania, Dr Shane Jackson will give a presentation on pharmacy-based flu vaccination as part of the Professional Practice: New Professional Services in Pharmacy concurrent stream at PAC 10.

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Updated medication review guidelines released : 20/10/2010 :

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia has released updated guidelines for pharmacists providing Home Medicines Review (HMR) services and Residential Medication Management Review (RMMR) and Quality Use of Medicines (QUM) services to aged care homes.

PSA was contracted under the Fourth Community Pharmacy Agreement to review and update the Professional Practice Standards as well as any practice guidelines identified as in need of development or review.

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Consumer Health Forum urges states, feds to get their act together : 20/10/2010 :

Commenting on the TGA's Monday release of its reaction to the WA government's report on the handling of the suspension of the 2010 WA seasonal influenza vaccination program for children, the Consumer Health Forum's (CHF) CEO Carol Bennett said yesterday that there is an urgent need for state a fedaral health authorities to communicate more effectively.

Ms Bennett said yesterday that CHF welcomed the public release of the detailed response by the Therapeutic Goods Administration to claims in a report by former Western Australian Chief Medical Officer, Professor Bryant Stokes, of system failures, including adverse events reporting, during the 2010 seasonal flu vaccine program.

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Webstercare October Newsletter : 19/10/2010 :

Every second month our friends at Webstercare produce a newsletter that is distributed to all aged care homes throughout Australia.

They've kindly agreed to make it available to pharmacists too, through AusPharm.

The latest edition (October) contains articles on:

  • Webstercare - Continuous Improvement Over Time: Aged care now is radically different to 30 years ago. So is Webstercare. We have grown and technologically improved, providing the best medication management systems in the world.
  • Medication-Induced Asthma: This month’s edition of Continuing Education explores this important issue in aged care.
  • eWebstercare MedsComm: MedsComm is a new, electronic way of communicating with the pharmacy and sending and tracking orders saving time money and hassles.
  • Webstercare Options: Webstercare has an extensive range of medication management systems designed to suit any aged care facility.

Click here to download the October Webstercare newsletter in full (418kb pdf). Click here if you have any feedback, suggestions or queries about the newsletter.

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TGA concerns over Stokes Review into WA suspended vaccine program : 19/10/2010 :

The TGA has issued a detailed response to the Stokes Review which, conducted under the auspices of Western Australian authorities, looked into events leading to the suspension of the 2010 WA seasonal influenza vaccination program for children. This vaccination program involved WA diverging from the national vaccination program and setting their own influenza vaccination schedule.

The TGA believes that fall-out from the WA State experience has damaged the credibility of the national vaccination program in Australia. Furthermore, the agency believes there are a number of misunderstandings in the Stokes review that, if not corrected, are likely to lead to further undermining of the current national framework and controls. The TGA says that, in order to limit damage to what is one of the world's best vaccination programs, it has now issued a report to set the record straight. Until now the TGA has refrained from responding publicly to developments in WA following the program suspension.

Read the TGA response here.

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