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AusPharm news

Chemist Warehouse tops the poll : 11/10/2010 :

The latest Roy Morgan Retail Satisfaction Report for the 12 months to June 2010 reveals that Chemist Warehouse was the number one pharmacy for customer satisfaction, followed by My Chemist and Terry White Chemists.

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Reductil supply ceased in Australia from 9 Oct 2010 : 11/10/2010 :

Abbott Australasia will cease supply of sibutramine (Reductil) in Australia from 9 October 2010.

This follows discussions between the company and the TGA, after an analysis of the final results of a major study (Sibutramine Cardiovascular OUTcomes, SCOUT) showed a higher rate of cardiovascular events (heart attack, stroke) in obese and overweight patients using sibutramine than in patients managing their weight through exercise and diet alone.

Sibutramine was suspended in January 2010 by the EMEA in Europe. In the US, the FDA concluded that the drug doesn't cause enough weight loss to justify its cardiovascular risks. Abbott voluntarily agreed on 8 October 2010 to the FDA's request to remove sibutramine (Meridia) from the US market.

Abbott has provided information online about the cessation of Reductil for patients and healthcare professionals in the Australian market. Any patients currently taking sibutramine should be referred to their treating healthcare professional to discuss a new weight loss plan, but according to an Abbott spokesperson, "patients who wish to stop treatment before seeing their doctor can do so at any time".

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UK pharmacists to 'prescribe' methadone? : 11/10/2010 :

In response to media reports that methadone patients in Scotland were spitting their supervised methadone doses into containers for resale the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB) has placed the issue of pharmacist 'prescribing' of methadone on the UK health agenda.

Lasy week, the BBC was contacted by a retired policeman who claimed that poor pharmacist technique of dispensing methadone was leading to ‘spit-methadone’ being available for sale on the streets. As part of its investigation into the allegations the BBC contacted the RPSGB. RPSGB Scottish Director, Lyndon Braddick, told the BBC that pharmacists were best able to judge whether an addict might benefit from a lower dose. He said this might help reduce addicts' reliance on the drug to zero.

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Pharmacists Should Only Sell Evidence Based Products : 11/10/2010 :

Warming to the theme of PAC10's Great Debate Pharmacists Should Only Sell Evidence Based Products, pharmacist and herbalist Gerald Quigley writes in tomorrow's AusPharm(e)news, "I’m puzzled. We seem to have backed ourselves, or we have perhaps been manoeuvered effectively, into a bit of a corner. Why do we now regard ourselves as minor players in the health team?"

On Thursday, public health physician with an interest in evidence-based medicine, Ken Harvey will respond to Gerald Quigley's case against the topic, that pharmacists should only sell evidence based products. Ken will outline his approach to a common scenario - a patient seeking symptomatic relief for a benign early prosate condition, which a doctor is not yet ready to treat.

Watch this space tomorrow and Thursday.

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RGH E-Bulletin: Constipation (part two) : 11/10/2010 :

The topic of this week's RGH E‑Bulletin is Constipation (part two)

A previous E-Bulletin (39-6) addressed general aspects of constipation management. Further information about specific therapeutic interventions is outlined here.

Bulk forming agents (which may also be used to absorb fluid from loose stool in chronic diarrhoea):

• bran
• ispaghula husk: Fybogel®
• psyllium husk: Mucilax®
• psyllium & ispaghula husk: Metamucil®
• sterculia gum: Normacol®

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

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Febrile convulsions not a problem with Panvax : 08/10/2010 :

In July 2010 an Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) and Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) Joint Working Group  working group determined that the 2010 trivalent influenza vaccine Fluvax/Fluvax Junior (CSL) was associated with febrile convulsions in children < 5 years of age at an unacceptable high rate (here).

In order to ascertain whether a similarly high rate of febrile convulsions ocurred in Panvax/Panvax Jnr recipients, the working group was reconvened.

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ATSI PBS expenditure report published today : 08/10/2010 :

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare today released a report detailing expenditure on health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) people for the period 2006-07, analysed by remoteness and disease.

The report found that expenditure on health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (compared with non-Indigenous) people varies with remoteness, but the patterns differ between each of the major types of health spending, depending on whether it is Medicare, the PBS or hospital spending.

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Around 50% of pharmacists deal with oxycodone 'issues' day to day : 08/10/2010 :

This week's AusPharm poll determined that around half of those pharmacists voting deal with oxycodone related 'issues' as a standard part of day to day work. Specifically, 13% work in a pharmacotherapy pharmacy where such issues tend to go with the territory, but for a further 35% outside this specialist area oxycodone issues are obvious and a constant challenge.

Only 13% of pharmacists are working in areas where there is no apparent oxycodone-type problem, with 29% seeing the occasional red flag, and 10% sensing there's a problem but they can't be certain.

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UK pulls codeine for coughs in children : 08/10/2010 :

The UK Commission for Human Medicines (CHM) has advised UK health professionals that over-the-counter (OTC) liquid medicines containing codeine should no longer be used in children under 18 years. CHM has also advised that all OTC liquid codeine medicines should be packaged in Child Resistant Containers by June 2012.

The CHM has decided that existing stock does not need to be removed from shelves but pharmacists have been asked to consider the new advice when recommending cough medicines. Pharmacists have been advised to continue to manage adult sales and to consider alternative treatments or only supply product with updated labelling where there are children under 18 years in the family.

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AusPharm CE: RGH E-Bulletin Digest No. 29 : 07/10/2010 :

The next in our 2010 series of continuing education activities is the RGH E-Bulletin Digest No. 29.

This CE activity assesses your understanding of four recent RGH Pharmacy E-Bulletins (Volumes 39-7 - 39-10  -->  September 2010).

After completing this activity, pharmacists should be able to:

  • Understand the clinical pharmacology of febuxostat
  • Describe the treatments approaches available for the management of interstitial cystitis
  • Describe the features of serotonin toxicity
  • Discuss the clinical pharmacology of dutasteride

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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Critical appraisal of drug company promotional techniques : 07/10/2010 :

In a PAC10 session on Sunday 31 October, Dr Ken Harvey will look at the inherent conflict between the legitimate business goal of pharmaceutical companies to maximise profit and the medical, social and economic needs of health professionals, consumers and government to choose and use medicines rationally.

This conflict has increased in recent years because innovation has become more difficult, drug development pipelines are drying up and many profitable “blockbuster” drugs are coming off patent. “This has resulted in substantially increased industry expenditure on promotion,” Dr Harvey says. “Major pharmaceutical companies now spend of the order of 24% to 33% of sales on promotion, about twice as much as on R&D."

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Rural & Remote and ATSI Pharmacy Scholarships : 07/10/2010 :

Applications are now open for the Rural and Remote Pharmacy Scholarship Scheme (R&R), and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pharmacy Scholarship Scheme (ATSI). The equivalent of 30 fulltime R&R scholarships are available annually, valued at $10,000 per year over a 4-year period; a maximum of $40,000 per student. Applicants can be in any year of undergraduate or postgraduate pharmacy study. There are 3 fulltime scholarships available under the ATSI scheme for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to study pharmacy at university.

These scholarships are funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing, and
managed by the Pharmacy Guild of Australia under the Community Pharmacy Agreement.

Applications close on Friday 3 December 2010. Applications and guidelines for both scholarship Schemes are available via the Guild’s rural website.

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Guild offers CPD resources to all pharmacists : 07/10/2010 :

The Australian Pharmacy Council has now authorised the Pharmacy Guild to provide accreditation of professional development opportunities for pharmacists across Australia. Until now, the PSA has been the only organisation authorised to do this.

The Guild has developed a MyCPD website, accessible to any pharmacist, to provide them with a system for keeping track of their CPD points. A pharmacist activating MyCPD and logging into the system will be able to choose from a menu of Guild courses as well as adding in details of their other CPD activities.

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PBS highlighted to new Finance Minister as fiscal challenge : 07/10/2010 :

The Secretary of the Department of Finance and Deregulation has made available online the 109-page briefing document provided to incoming Finance Minister Penny Wong. The specialist briefs within this document include "Health Reform - National Health & Hospitals Network" and more interestingly, "Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme - fiscal challenges".

The reasons given for highlighting the importance of the PBS to the Finance Minister are that "The PBS is one of the four major funding pressures in the Health and Ageing portfolio administered through a Special Appropriation (i.e. controlled by the terms of their own Act). All four - the others are the Medicare Benefits Schedule, residential aged care subsidies, and the private health insurance rebate - have real growth rate well above 2%."

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News from the last Pharmacy Board of Australia meeting : 07/10/2010 :

The Pharmacy Board of Australia has issued a communique following its 12th board meeting in September. Some of the items addressed during the meeting are as follows:

Pharmacists are reminded that the closing date for comments on the Pharmacy Board's draft guidelines on responsibilities of pharmacists when practising as proprietors is 29 October 2010.

Western Australia is expected to join the National Registration Scheme on 18 October 2010. Details of the transition process for registered pharmacists and interns are included in the communique.

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Self care fact cards to change size and shape : 06/10/2010 :

An important improvement will take place in the Self Care program in November with the size of the Fact Cards changing to the standard size of an A4 piece of paper folded in half, which is an A5 size.

The benefits of this change are:

• Extra room that will enable an increase in the font size, add more pictures and extend the area for pharmacies to place their contact details. This will increase readability.
• As A5 is a standard size, display stands can be purchased from any provider. Self care has a preferred display stand provider which has designed a rotating stand and wall stands similar to those already available.
• The number of cards displayed in these new stands will increase. 

The new-look Fact Cards are part of the continuing development of the Self Care program to ensure it meets consumer and pharmacist needs.

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Poll: how do you gauge the 'oxycodone problem' in your pharmacy? : 06/10/2010 :

Underlying the media beat up over what is now being commonly referred to as the 'oxycodone issue' (for simplicity let's ignore that it's not limited to oxycodone), there lies a real and complex problem. A problem which many people are working to address in different ways, some more newsworthy than others. A problem that is not seen everywhere in the same way.

How many of us at the pointy end of pharmacy are coping with this problem, and to what degree?

Help give us a real sense of this by voting in this week's anonymous AusPharm poll.

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New issue Australian Prescriber - gentamicin changes and more : 06/10/2010 :

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

  • a proposal to abandon routine gentamicin plasma monitoring during short term (48 hour) use
  • the need, or otherwise, for routine blood glucose monitoring in type 2 diabetes, and gestational diabetes.
  • a review of some of the non-invasive tests available for melanoma.
  • an article by Melissa Sweet on moves to require increased disclosure of financial incentives between industry and clinicians, researchers and related institutions.
  • closure of TAIS, the Therapeutic Advice and Information Service.

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

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MIMS Monthly Medicine Update : 06/10/2010 :

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

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Learning as a Pharmacy Team : 05/10/2010 :

Pharmacists have the opportunity learn with their team at PAC10 this year, with the Pharmacy Assistants Program offering a range of sessions designed to increase the knowledge and skills base of all pharmacy team members.
Unlike other pharmacy assistant conferences, the PAC10 program gives pharmacists and pharmacy owners the chance to learn alongside their team, thereby ensuring consistency of skills while boosting the spirit of teamwork.

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