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AusPharm news

Poll: Should a direct referral model for HMRs be implemented? : 15/09/2010 :

This week's feature article saw a plea from the PSA president for flexibility to be introduced into remuneration for pharmacist services.

An accredited pharmacist conducting a Home Medication Review currently can be paid only via a referring community pharmacy. It doesn't always make sense to have a middle man, particularly in cases where the reviewer is an independent operator. A fee for service could be paid to a pharmacy to cover the administration costs in pulling relevant medical records for an HMR, if that is the limit of their involvement. Shouldn't the pharmacist providing the HMR service then have the option of being directly remunerated?

What do you think? Share your view with just one click by voting in this week's AusPharm poll.

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Spotlight on complementary approaches to arthritis as legal debate continues on side effects with conventional medicines : 14/09/2010 :

Reports that the a legal class action, in which a link is alleged between a particular treatment for arthritis and an increase in cardiovascular events, will be “bigger than expected” is set to bring a focus on to the potential benefits of using evidence-based complementary medicines in the management of arthritis.

Healthcare professionals say people who are currently treating osteoarthritis symptoms with conventional medicines like Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) may well benefit from using complementary medicines which effectively alleviate arthritis symptoms.

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October 2010 PBS schedule : 14/09/2010 :

NEW! We have added the 'Section 100 Highly Specialised Drugs Program schedule' to the October PBS schedule and the 'PBS Summary of Changes'  are available here.

Download the Full PBS schedule

Download the PBS Summary of changes

Download the S100 Highly Specialised Drugs Program schedule

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Media talks up complementary cost effectiveness study : 14/09/2010 :

A recent report commissioned by the National Institute of Complementary Medicines (NICM) into the cost effectiveness of 5 complementary therapies has been positively reported by a range of media outlets with some impressive claims of savings to the health care system.

The report considered:

  • Acupuncture for chronic low back pain (as a complement to standard care vs placebo and standard care; as a complement to standard care vs standard care alone; and acupuncture alone vs standard care alone).
  • fish oils as a complement to current preventive therapies for prevention of heart disease among those who have had myocardial infarction
  • fish oils as an adjunctive therapy with lower NSAID use rather than standard NSAID therapy alone for rheumatoid arthritis
  • St John's wort for mild to moderate depression compared with standard antidepressants (TCAs, SSRIs, SNRIs)
  • PhytodolorTM for the management of pain, inflammation and other symptoms of osteoarthritis (extracts of aspen, golden rod and common ash)

With such a wide-ranging study, accuracy in reporting any of the findings depends on the full context and detail being reported at the same time. This cannot always be clearly reflected in relatively brief popular press reports. For those with an interest in this area the full 176-page report is essential reading.

The Australian Self-Medication Industry, representing non-prescription healthcare products, welcomed the report saying that "the study provides a sound economic foundation for wider acceptance and encouragement of the legitimate role for complementary medicine." The Complementary Healthcare Council, also representing a segment of the non-prescription industry says they "will lead the development of further research into these matters and the current and future contributions of complementary healthcare products to quality of lifestyle and health budget savings."

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RGH E-Bulletin: Febuxostat for acute gout : 13/09/2010 :

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

"Gout is a syndrome caused by deposition of urate crystals in the joints, leading to inflammation. The first attack of gout is usually in a single joint, most often in the foot or big toe, and the joint is typically painful, red and swollen. Hyperuricaemia (serum uric acid concentration > 0.46 mom/l) is an important risk factor for developing gout, but many people with hyperuricaemia never develop gout. Conversely, up to 40 % of people experiencing an attack of gout have normal serum urate levels."

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

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Unhealthy monopolies: pharmacies : 13/09/2010 :

"HAS the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme lost its way? Becoming a support mechanism for a network of retail pharmacies rather than a part of a national health scheme?"

So begins an op ed in Saturday's Australian newpaper by NT pharmacist Rollo Manning.

Read it here.

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Roxon, Butler retain Health portfolios : 13/09/2010 :

Health Minister Nicola Roxon has retained the Health portfolio in the new Gillard government.

Former Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Ageing, Mark Butler, has been replaced by the member for Ballarat, Catherine King. In her new role Ms King will have responsibility for the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

Mr Butler will become Minister for Mental Health and Ageing in the new ministry.

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October 2010 PBS schedule : 12/09/2010 :

The October PBS schedule, the 'Summary of Changes' and the 'Section 100 Highly Specialised Drugs Program Schedule' are now available here.

Download the Full PBS schedule

Download the Summary of changes

Download the S100 Highly Specialised Drugs Program Schedule

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Pharmacy Board meeting communique : 10/09/2010 :

The Pharmacy Board of Australia (PBA) has issued a communique subsequent to their 11th meeting, held on 27 August 2010. In brief, the board considered the following:

  • The registration period for pharmacists has been set down as beginining on 1 December and ending on 30 November annually. Applicants will be required to pay the full fee unless applying during the last two months before the renewal date, when the full fee paid will provide registration for the following 12 month period as well.
  • The Polices, Codes and Guidelines Committee has developed a guideline on responsibilities of pharmacists when practising as proprietors; this will be issued for consultation on the PBA's website in the near future.
  • Follow-up on the issue of provisional registration deadlines for intern training periods, which were not met in one State. This issue has now mostly been resolved with an extension of time provided.
  • The PBA’s Registration and Notifications Committee is developing a protocol for consistent consideration of applications for return to practice.
  • The PBA will develop information to guide pharmacists about dealing with requests from people for whom there are no provisions under the National Law to gain student registration and who wish to undertake the equivalent of clinical training.
  • The Board appointed a list of persons eligible to sit as panel members.

The full communique can be found at

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3.9 million Australians vaccinated against swine flu : 10/09/2010 :

About 3.9 million Australians, or about 18% of the population, had been vaccinated against the H1N1 virus by the end of February 2010, according to a survey undertaken by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report of the survey, 2010 Pandemic Vaccination Survey: summary results, provides estimates of the H1N1 09 vaccination uptake, along with the motivation for, and barriers to, vaccination.

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PharmX adds suppliers to online ordering system : 10/09/2010 :

The online ordering gateway, PharmX, has added 5 new suppliers to its system: Chemplus, Clifford Hallam Healthcare, Doward International, Independent Pharmacy Supplies, and Terry White Management.

This gives pharmacies a greater choice of stock that can be ordered online. The new suppliers are in addition to those already available to pharmacies through PharmX: API, Arana, Ascent Pharmaceuticals, Atherton, Barrett, CDN, Central Healthcare Services, CostSave, Dean Garbutt, DHL, Nadglen Pharmaceuticals, NPD, sanofi-aventis Consumer Healthcare, Sigma, SWAPS and Symbion Pharmacy Services. Ultimately, PharmX's goal is to provide pharmacies with one window to all the suppliers that they need.

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Most people see an oversupply of pharmacists in the workforce : 10/09/2010 :

Following a strong voter turn out, this week's poll clearly shows that a majority of AusPharmListers (83%) are seeing an oversupply of pharmacists in the Australian workforce. However 35% feel that this is really a problem seen only in metropolitan areas.

The balance of votes was made up of those who don't see a problem - 9% are absolutely sure there is no oversupply, and 7% are not sure if there is a problem or not.

This is a matter that cuts to the heart of each pharmacist's current and future professional job prospects in Australia. AusPharm will be following keenly how this issue is handled by the profession's representatives and educational establishments, as well as by individual pharmacists seeking jobs that are both professionally and financially rewarding.

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Transparency when posting to AusPharmList : 09/09/2010 :

The issue of transparency when posting to AusPharmList was brought to our attention recently when a 'lister posted a comment in support of a particular provider of CE without making it clear that they had an association with that provider.

In this case, it's quite possible that this 'lister's signature 'fell off' during the formatting process - we are not suggesting that the omission was deliberate.

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AusPharm CE: RGH E-Bulletin Digest No. 28 : 09/09/2010 :

The next in our 2010 series of continuing education activities is the RGH E-Bulletin Digest No. 28.

This CE activity assesses your understanding of four recent RGH Pharmacy E-Bulletins (Volumes 39-3 - 39-6  -->  August 2010).

After completing this activity, pharmacists should be able to:

  • Describe causes of and treatments for hyperhydrosis
  • Understand recent clinical evidence relating to the consequences of vitamin D supplementation
  • Discuss factors influencing the anticoagulant activity of rivaroxaban
  • Outline appropriate treatment approaches for the management of simple constipation

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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Morning Sickness: Still No Relief : 09/09/2010 :

There are currently no reliably safe and effective treatments for morning sickness, according to Cochrane researchers who conducted a systematic review of the available evidence. There was very limited evidence for all pharmaceutical and alternative medicines tested. 

Symptoms of morning sickness can in fact occur at any time of the day and affect more than half of all women in the early stages of pregnancy.

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Overall AFL and NRL Prize Winners for PHARMeFOOTY 2010! : 09/09/2010 :

Congratulations to James Taylor from Collins Street Pharmacy for winning the 2010 AFL PHARMeFOOTY tipping contest. A final Round score of 5 was enough for James to  win by the narrowest 1 point margin and take home the $1000 1st prize. In 2nd place and winning $200 was Jack Cooper of Barry Dobyn Pharmacy with 3rd place and $100 going to Sue Quayle of Hardy's Pharmacy.  In 4th place was Merryn Driesen of Eaglehawk UFS Dispensary and Dale McGough a Locum Pharmacist finished the season in 5th spot.

Congratulations to Julie Kain of Torrens Road Gordon for winning the 2010 NRL PHARMeFOOTY tipping contest. Julie's consistent tipping enabled her to hold onto the lead for the last 8 weeks and take out the $1000 1st prize. In 2nd place and winning $200 was Barbara Jarman also from Torrens Road Gordon, making it a very successful year for the Torrens Road team. 3rd place and $100 goes to Beth McLean from Terry White Chemists -Tweed Centro.   In 4th place was Andrew Kobryn from Blooms The Chemist Springwood with Helen Martin also from Torrens Road Gordon placing 5th.

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UK study shows cost effectiveness of self-care schemes in community pharmacies : 08/09/2010 :

A new UK study has shown that pharmacist consultatations on minor ailments are a highly cost effective alternative to patients visiting GPs.

In the UK, pharmacy-based minor ailment schemes are commissioned by local primary care trusts and cover a defined range of minor health problems. They enable patients who are exempt from NHS prescription charges to receive free treatment and advice from their local pharmacy.

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Poll: Is there currently an oversupply of pharmacists in Australia? : 08/09/2010 :

There seems to be a clear difference of opinion between leaders of the Pharmacy Guild as to the reality or myth of an oversupply of pharmacists in Australia.

Posts on AusPharmList over recent weeks from those at the coalface would seem to support the reality of oversupply... but may be that's just because the few who are experiencing a problem are being vocal, and all those who don't see a problem in practice just don't bother to comment.

Let's hear from all AusPharmListers representing the entire cross-section of pharmacy in Australia... Is there currently an oversupply of pharmacists in Australia? With just one click, help us gauge the perception of the situation by voting in this week's Auspharm poll.

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Management of persistent pain - rehab session at PAC : 08/09/2010 :

Helping to manage persistent pain is an area in which pharmacists can establish effective and rewarding relationships with patients, and work as an essential part of a multi-disciplinary team.

This year at PAC, rehabilitation physician Dr Stephen de Graaff will be presenting a session emphasising the need for medication to be regular and predictable in the management of persistent, as distinct from short term, pain. Where this cannot be achieved other health professionals need to be involved to achieve a successful outcome.

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Govt policy changes needed to enable new antibiotic development : 08/09/2010 :

In the light of recent warnings over antibiotic resistance from the WHO and in The Lancet, Medicines Australia is reiterating the need for governments to work with the pharmaceutical industry to create policy environments conducive to research into new antibiotics.

MA chief executive, Dr Brendan Shaw said “this has serious implications for Australia, where 7000 people die each year from drug-resistant bacteria such as golden staph infections." Referring to a recent report from the London School of Economics highlighting reasons the pharmaceutical industry is not commercialising enough new antibiotics, he noted several barriers to investment caused by governments.

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