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AusPharm news

Poll result: how much do you use the APF? : 20/03/2009 :

In light of the recent publication of the new, 21st, edition of the APF, this week's poll asked 'listers how often they used the APF in the their work as a pharmacist. The result (n=194), shown below, suggests that it is not the most used reference in your average pharmacy (department). Click the image below to see a larger version of the graph.As a follow up poll (we'll run the result on Monday) AusPharm wonders how many pharmacies actually have an APF (20th edition) on the shelf? Please let us know by voting in today's poll below.

eRx to have competition on electronic scripts : 20/03/2009 :

MediSecure yesterday announced the release of the MediSecure e-prescription solution, a product in direct competition with eRx Script Exchange. According to MediSecure a pilot is set to commence in April 2009 with commercial trading due in July 2009. The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners has lent its support to MediSecure.

Like eRx, MediSecure will be open to all pharmacy and medical practice software vendors. According to MediSecure, pharmacists will pay per script processed but there will be no cost to doctors.

Guild President Kos Sclavos told AusPharm that there had already been initiatives regarding electronic prescriptions in the Australian market and eRx is not the first. 

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Former API exec dumps on pharmacy 'junkets' : 19/03/2009 :

Former API executive, Simon Burrow, had a bit to say about offshore pharmacy 'educational' trips in an article published on Crikey health blog 'Croakey' on Wednesday.

"This is how it works: Annually, or more often bi-annually, an exotic venue is chosen by the [wholesaler's] senior management team. Suppliers are strong-armed into contributing 'sponsorshjips' to finance the venture. The strategy is always to make a profit and bolster the half-year numbers. Conferences are often organized at a late notice to do just that."

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April 1 PBS price rises : 19/03/2009 :

There are quite a lot of PBS price rises scheduled for April 1. Guild members can access a list of affected products on the Guild website here.

There are substantial savings to be had for those pharmacies able to 'stock up'. Products set to rise in price include Zoloft, Timoptol, Zocor, Xalatan and Pariet - there are many more.

The full PBS schedule and the 'Summary of Changes' for 1 April 2009 are now available on the web site

Influenza prevention focus of new pharmacy competition : 19/03/2009 :

To ensure Australian pharmacies are doing their bit to cut the cost of influenza, the Pharmacy Guild, in conjunction with Gold Cross Products and Services, is running an infection control competition for pharmacy assistants this ‘flu season.

Participating pharmacy assistants must develop an infection control concept, such as an in-store display or health promotion activity, to help inform community pharmacy customers about infection control.

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Pharmacy Guild and Friendly Societies Pharmacies form alliance : 19/03/2009 :

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia and the Friendly Societies Pharmacies Association have signed an agreement which confirms that, in undertaking its CPA5 negotiations with the Government, the Guild will seek to obtain the best possible outcome for all community pharmacies, including the more than 120 owned by Friendly Societies.

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NPS advises consumers to avoid further costs by taking medicine as prescribed : 19/03/2009 :

The National Prescribing Service (NPS) has urged consumers to speak to their doctor or pharmacist if they are concerned about the cost of their medicines, warning that suddenly stopping a prescribed medicine can have dangerous consequences.

New research from the Menzies Centre for Health Policy has shown a direct correlation between financial stress and consumers failing to collect prescriptions and skipping doses of medication, which can result in further health complications.

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Tasmanian Board turns 100 : 19/03/2009 :

The Pharmacy Board of Tasmania first met on 15 December 1908 following the introduction of the Pharmacy Act 1908 in that state.

At two functions in Hobart yesterday pharmacists, past and present Board members and others gathered to celebrate the Board's 100th birthday. The first of these celebrations was a a reception hosted by His Excellency, the Honourable Peter Underwood, Governor of Tasmania and Mrs Underwood at Government House.

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Software vendor fees to rise? : 19/03/2009 :

The Federal Government is to discontinue payments to dispensing software vendors to support PBS Online.  In response, vendors have indicated that they will have no choice but to introduce PBS Online levies in addition to normal fees in order to continue their current level of service.

An industry source told AusPharm that the extra payments are likely to be between $100 and $200 per month depending on a pharmacy's prescriptrion volume.

The support funding, negotiated as part of the 2006 PBS reforms package, was originally provided to each vendor for two years - some pharmacies have now passed their two year anniversary of PBS Online connectivity, while most others will reach this point in coming months.  As this occurs, the Government payments to software vendors will cease.

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Anticoagulation services in pharmacy : 18/03/2009 :

The University of Tasmania’s School of Pharmacy is looking for pharmacies involved in the provision of anticoagulation services.

The school is interested in hearing from pharmacies that currently provide, or have previously provided, anticoagulation services through their pharmacy. The project simply involves completing a questionnaire relating to the service that is (or was) provided. 

For more information, or to register your interest in participating, please contact Dr Luke Bereznicki or Ella Jeffrey (on 03 6226 2195/03 6226 1068), or email


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Poll: I use the APF.... : 18/03/2009 :

The recent release of the APF 21 has AusPharm wondering how widely it is used.

Peter Allen reported feedback at a recent PSA function was that "I only bought the previous editions because the Board said we had to. This next one I will actually keep handy to browse and look up."

How often do you use the APF in your work as a pharmacist? Please let us know by voting in today's poll below.

Medicines Australia: Pharma jobs under threat : 18/03/2009 :

Pharma industry group Medicines Australia yesterday warned that the global economic crisis threatened hundreds of jobs in Australia' pharmaceutical industry.

Medicines Australia chief executive Ian Chalmers said that the Government could protect jobs and encourage foreign investment in Australia’s pharmaceutical industry by ensuring there were no further cuts to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, and by implementing key industry support measures.

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Pharmacy backing grows for eRx : 18/03/2009 :

Three thousand pharmacies around Australia will be able to use electronic prescriptions by the middle of this year, with Simple Retail (Aquarius) joining forces with eRx Script Exchange.

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New format APF21 now available : 17/03/2009 :

The latest edition of The Australian Pharmaceutical Formulary - APF21 - is now available. According to publishers, PSA, APF21 brings together the past, present and future of pharmacy practice and teaching. 

The content incorporates theory and best practice, developed and reviewed by a range of expert contributors and an editorial board chaired by Emeritus Professor Lloyd Sansom.

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Micardis Plus for a 'Turkey'? : 16/03/2009 :

'Listers who've been around for a while will remember the 'AusPharm "Turkey of the year award" for poor packaging' competition. For those who weren't with us in 2005, all is revealed here.

Micardis Plus didn't get nominated at the time but, if we were to run the competition again, I think it might just sneak in. (Click the picture to see a larger version).

Not a lot to distinguish between the three strengths is there?

RGH E-Bulletin: Desvenlafaxine for depression : 16/03/2009 :

"Desvenlafaxine (O-desmethylvenlafaxine) is the latest antidepressant to be subsidised under the auspices of the pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme for the management of major depressive disorders. Desvenlafaxine, the major active metabolite of venlafaxine, is a serotonin and noradrenaline reuptake inhibitor (SNRI), with its clinical efficacy as an antidepressant theoretically due to the potentiation of these neurotransmitters in the central nervous system. It is marketed n Australia as Pristiq® and is available as desvenlafaxine succinate extended release tablets containing 50 mg or 100 mg
of desvenlafaxine."

Click here to read the bulletin in full.

The E-Bulletin is archived and previous editions can be viewed on the AusPharm website here.

NPS delivers on its charter : 16/03/2009 :

The positive impact of the National Prescribing Service (NPS) on prescribing practice and medicines use has been reaffirmed in its latest evaluation report, launched online last week.

Last financial year NPS saved the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme over $58 million, well in excess of its contractual requirements. This was achieved through educational outreach visits to doctors, pharmacists and nurses, training programs, resources for consumers, campaigns, and online activities, all of which were supported by its network of member organisations.

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Poll result: damage to pharmacy image from supplying 'alternative' medicine products : 13/03/2009 :

The respondents to this week's poll (n=152) take the view that the selling of 'alternative' medicines and other products of dubious efficacy does indeed damage the image of pharmacy. The majority of those responding think that this damages the pharmacy image 'a lot'  (30%) or 'it'll be the undoing of us' (30%). AusPharm thinks that things might not be quite that bad. (Click the chart to see the results in detail).

Comments to AusPharmList demonstrate that this is a complex question with no easy 'answer' for pharmacies.

We think it likely that the issue isn't in the front of the minds of most consumers, despite the occasional negative publicity. And while other interested parties (eg doctors, government, Boards) may take more notice, for them it is not the main game. We do not think this issue will 'be the undoing of us'.

Guild: “Modern” award threatens jobs in community pharmacy : 13/03/2009 :

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia said yesterday that it supports calls from employers and the trade union movement for the implementation of the Government’s award modernisation process to be deferred to avoid extensive job losses at the worst possible time for the Australian economy.

Trade union officials quoted in The Australian newspaper yesterday acknowledge that the modern awards brought down by the Australian Industrial Relations Commission impose new higher costs on many employers, requiring an extensive transitional period of up to five years. The office of Minister Julia Gillard has confirmed that the creation of modern awards was not intended to disadvantage workers or employers.

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NPS Medicine Name Finder launched : 13/03/2009 :

The National Prescribing Service (NPS) yesterday launched  an online tool, NPS Medicine Name Finder, which identifies the active ingredient in a prescription medicine and the brand names it is known as.

When a brand name is entered into the NPS Medicine Name Finder, the active ingredient name appears and vice versa when the active ingredient name is entered. Consumers are then prompted to record their medicine details on a downloadable Medicines List or print the information to discuss it with their health professional. A link is also provided to the Consumer Medicine Information (CMI) leaflet which contains more details about the medicine.

The data supporting the online tool is provided by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Division of the Department of Health and Ageing and updated monthly. It does not cover over-the-counter, natural or herbal medicines, nor medicines not listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

The NPS Medicine Name Finder is available to both consumers and health professionals on the NPS website here.

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