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AusPharm news

Online poll of doctors reflects lack of confidence in generics? : 19/10/2010 :

Results of a small online poll of doctors (n=101) commissioned by Somac manufacturers, Nycomed, reflect that a portion of doctors lack confidence in substitution and dispensing of generics. Doctors were invited to participate in the poll through online banner ads on 6minutes.com.au; AustralianDoctor.com.au and the healthcare professional section of VirtualMedicalCentre.com.au. A series of 10 questions about generic medicines was put to doctors.

When asked: "Do you believe pharmacists should be involved in the decision process of when to substitute generically?" 51.5% of respondents said no, 42.6% said yes.

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November 2010 PBS schedule : 18/10/2010 :

The November PBS schedule and the 'PBS Summary of Changes' available here.

Download the Full PBS schedule

Download the PBS Summary of changes

The S100 Highly Specialised Drugs Program schedule is now included in the PBS schedule.

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An outlet for your patients' complaints about medicines labels : 18/10/2010 :

Do you have patients complaining about how difficult it is to read or understand medicines labelling, or use the packaging? Over the next few weeks you can offer them a constructive avenue for their input on how this area can be improved, by suggesting they respond to the Consumer Health Forum's call for consumer comments on medicine labelling and packaging.

To help prompt comments, the CHF has posed a set of 14 questions, but input does not need to be restricted to these questions and can be in any format. The CHF has provided these key questions in a 14-page background paper which also brings interested consumers up to speed on what is required on labels, issues, research findings and current recommendations in this area.

Consumer comments are due in to the CHF by Friday 29 October 2010, and will be used to develop the agenda for a CHF consultative workshop in November 2010 on medicines labelling and packaging. The outcome of this work will be reported to the NPS, and incorporated into CHF's policy development in this area.

For further information refer to the CHF website or contact contact Maiy Azize, Project Officer at m.azize@chf.org.au or (02) 6273 5444 (STD calls from consumers will be returned).

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Wicheproof vs Eskarou : 18/10/2010 :

The story of a pharmacist trying to set up a pharmacy in a Victorian country town which would have the effect of closing down the dispensing doctor's dispensing practice was picked up by the Melbourne Age over the weekend.

The Age reports that 'Adelaide-based Egyptian businessman who runs a chain of chemists shops', Mechel Eskarou, is set to open a pharmacy in Wycheproof, where the previous local pharmacy took a federal payout in the early 1990s and closed down, presumably because it wasn't viable.

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Complete Sleep wins at AMI 2010 : 18/10/2010 :

Sanofi-aventis Consumer Healthcare was awarded the Best Product Launch Award at the Australian Marketing Institute’s 2010 Awards for Marketing Excellence, held in Melbourne last week.

The award was presented to sanofi-aventis Consumer Healthcare for the Nature’s Own Complete Sleep launch.

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RGH E-Bulletin: Nebivolol : 18/10/2010 :

The topic of this week's RGH E‑Bulletin is Nebivolol

"Nebivolol is the newest addition to the range of beta blockers used for heart failure. This selective beta-1 receptor antagonist has been used in many countries for the treatment of hypertension, and more recently for heart failure. The Australian Therapeutics Goods Administration (TGA) recently approved nebivolol for use in chronic heart failure in addition to other standard therapies. Three studies have directly compared nebivolol with carvedilol, a non-selective beta and alpha-1 blocker."

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

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Military pharmacy Special interest group (MILSIG) workshop : 18/10/2010 :

The Military Pharmacy Special Interest Group (MILSIG) workshop will be held on Thursday, 28 October 2010.
This workshop will give those with a specific interest in military pharmacy the opportunity to get together to discuss some of the issues and developments in this sector.  

A key presenter at the workshop will be Colonel Georgeina Whelan, Command Health Officer, Headquarters Forces Command. Colonel Whelan will speak about the restructure of Army Health Support. 

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Australian Medicines Handbook pre-publication specials : 15/10/2010 :

Australian Medicines Handbook is currently running pre-publication specials. This is a fantastic opportunity to purchase AMH (in a number of formats) at a discounted price. 

This year AMH has introduced a new package, AMH Multi. AMH Multi is designed for community pharmacies and consists of a three-screen multi-user subscription to AMH Online and reference copy of the AMH 2011 Book.

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New Medicines Safety Update available : 15/10/2010 :

The most recent Medicines Safety Update published by the TGA has now been made available on the TGA website. In brief, this update highlights the following areas of concern:

  • Cholinesterase inhibitors [donepezil (Aricept), rivastigmine (Exelon), galantamine (Galantyl, Reminyl] have been associated with syncope and fall-related injuries, including hip fracture.
  • The combination of a macrolide antibiotic and a statin [clarithromycin or erythromycin with simvastatin or atorvastatin] can increase the risk of myopathy and rhabdomyolysis.
  • Most adverse event reports involving the oral anticoagulant rivaroxaban (Xarelto) received by the TGA describe thrombotic or haemorrhagic events, consistent with international experience and the known safety profile of rivaroxaban.The TGA is encouraging health professionals to report any AEs with this medication.
  • Uterine perforation is a known but rare complication associated with the levonorgestrel releasing IUD [Mirena].

 These are the safety areas of particular concern to the TGA recently. However the TGA encourages reporting of any suspected adverse events with all medicines, whether they are prescription, OTC or complementary products. Reporting can be done online.

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Voluntary euthanasia and dispensing associated scripts : 15/10/2010 :

This week's AusPharm poll reflects that if voluntary euthanasia was made legal, around half of the pharmacists that voted would dispense a legally valid script for a substance or combination that they suspected was intended for voluntary euthanasia. This 50% was broken down into 33% dispensing without question, but 14% dispensing only if they were sure the patient was terminally ill.

A substantial proportion of voters would would refuse to dispense: 16% on moral grounds and 10% for fear of legal consequences. A further 16% were not certain they would recognise such a script for what it was, and 11% felt this was a matter about which they choose not to share their likely actions.

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PSA intern training program accredited : 15/10/2010 :

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia’s National Intern Training Program (NITP) has been granted accreditation by the Australian Pharmacy Council.

The APC, in its capacity as independent accreditation body for the Pharmacy Board of Australia, has been tasked with the accreditation of Intern Training Program (ITP) providers following the implementation of the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme on 1 July 2010.

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Nurse and medical practitioner workforce figures published : 14/10/2010 :

In the period 2004 to 2008, the number of employed doctors increased by 18% and nurses by 12% in Australia, according to reports published by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare today. Despite this increase, regional areas still lag behind major cities in doctors per head of population - 187 (regional) vs 376 (city) full-time equivalent medical practitioners per 100,000 people. Nurses were more prevalent in very remote areas compared to cities with 1 275 and 1 035 FTE nurses respectively per 100,000 people.

Although an earlier period, the pharmacy workforce report from 2001 gives a rough idea of the pharmacist equivalent. The AIHW reported that in 1999 there were 77.7 pharmacists per 100,000 people in Australia. This broke down to 86.7 FTE per 100,000 population in capital cities and 33.7 in remote areas.

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Dilution : 14/10/2010 :

From xkcd, a 'webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language'.

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Preventing cardiovascular disease in Australian Pharmacy - what we can do now : 14/10/2010 :

There are many opportunities for community pharmacists in the prevention of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and the management of risk factors for CVD. A special session at PAC10 this year will be Screening and Early DetectionServices in Pharmacy in Australia - What We Can Do Now in Cardiovascular Disease, presented by Kevin McNamara from Monash University.

"There is much evidence from Australia and internationally to demonstrate that community pharmacists can deliver effective interventions for many individual risk factors, as well as early detection and awareness," Mr McNamara said.

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Code of Good Wholesaling Practice for Scheduled Medicines : 14/10/2010 :

The National Coordinating Committee on Therapeutic Goods (NCCTG) has published a summary of public comments (from Oct 2009) along with the NCCTG responses to the draft Code of Good Wholesaling Practice for Medicines in Schedule 2,3,4 and 8. The final code will take effect 1 April 2011.

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Poll - Voluntary euthanasia and dispensing associated scripts : 13/10/2010 :

The recently renewed push to legislate for voluntary euthanasia in Australia has, unsurprisingly, resulted in substantial media coverage and public debate of what is a highly complex and emotive area.

For example, yesterday Palliative Care Australia put the argument that it is not the time to consider such legal change, as palliative care services are under-resourced. This lack of resources leaves some vulnerable people thinking inaccurately that death is the only way to end their suffering; "whether due to ignorance, a lack of referral or simply that the palliative care service is unable to meet the need, these people think nothing more can be done for them." Personal cases are being publicised to support the case for allowing euthanasia.

Many of the views against are on the basis that one of the most fundamental of much of human societies' values is that we do not kill each other, and that this should remain a fundamental regardless of how compassionate the reasons for euthanasia. Lessons learned from the Northern Territory experience of the mid-1990s show how difficult it is to appropriately legislated euthanasia.

There is much to read and consider in relation to this issue. Voluntary euthanasia has been legalised in The Netherlands, Belgium and some US States, and has been given legal sanction previously, albeit relatively unsuccessfully, in Australia.

Imagine a day when voluntary euthanasia was legal in Australia; presumably there would be carefully developed practice guidelines to support this change in pharmacy practice.

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Nurse practitioner / midwife prescribing : 13/10/2010 :

As discussed on AusPharmList recently, from November 1, authorised nurse practitioners (and midwives) will be able to write prescriptions for certain medicines under the PBS.

The arrangements for PBS prescribing for midwives and nurse practitioners will be on the same basis as those for medical practitioners. Authorised midwives and authorised nurse practitioners will be able to write PBS prescriptions in private practice and in hospitals once they have a PBS prescriber number.

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Consultation on proposed scheduling changes : 13/10/2010 :

At its next meeting, the Advisory Committee on Medicines Scheduling will consider proposed changes to the scheduling of 19 ingredients (antihistamines, decongestants, amti-tussives) contained in cough and cold mixtures. The proposal before the committee is for these substances to be schedule 4 for use in children less than 2 years of age, schedule 3 for use in children aged from 2 to 6 years of age and schedule 2 for use in children and adults above 6 years of age.

The committee will also consider a proposal to proposal to delete the existing Appendix H entry for pseudoephedrine which would mean that it would ne longer be able to be advertised direct to the public.

The closing date for submissions is Friday 29 October 2010. Details are here.

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APF21 on iPad, iPhone, iTouch and other Apple technology : 12/10/2010 :

Instructions for using APF21 on iPhones, iTouch, iPad and multi-touch Apple devices can be accessed from the PSA website.

APF21 and all other key pharmacy publications can be purchased from the PSA, with discounts for members and students. Download the 44-page Pharmacy Bookzone catalogue (Aug 2010 - Feb 2011) for the full range of resources.

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Life Goes On : 12/10/2010 :

Keeping people alive and healthy into older age continues to present new challenges. One of the five themes at the upcoming Medicines Management 2010, the 36th SHPA National Conference, is the theme ‘Life Goes On’. This includes discussions on the pharmacist’s role and where these challenges are taking our profession, our health budget and holistic models of care we need to provide. Over the Friday and Saturday, invited expert speakers will share their vision on:

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