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AusPharm news

e-script roll out underway : 13/03/2009 :

Rollout of the first Australia-wide electronic prescription platform began yesterday in pharmacies in Victoria and New South Wales, in readiness for connecting GPs and medical specialists into the platform in April.

eRx Script Exchange will enable GPs and medical specialists to send prescriptions electronically through a secure, encrypted gateway, for later retrieval from a patient’s pharmacy of choice anywhere in Australia. The first pharmacies are successfully downloading prescription and external repeat data from eRx.

The rollout commenced in pharmacies using Fred Dispense, and will quickly expand to other pharmacy and prescribing vendors starting with medical prescribing software provider Best Practice.

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Raptiva withdrawn : 13/03/2009 :

Merck Serono Australia Pty Ltd yesterday announced it is withdrawing Raptiva (efalizumab (rch)) from the Australian marketplace following a recommendation from the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) to cancel the registration for Raptiva.

The decision was made as a result of safety concerns including the occurrence of Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy (PML) in patients taking this medication.

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Guild: media reports of pharmacy good times incorrect : 12/03/2009 :

Media reports yesterday (eg here) cite results of research showing that sales through pharmacies grew at the rate of 18 per cent in 2008. According to the Pharmacy Guild, the 18 per cent figure is incorrect and has resulted from major changes in sampling by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) that have made the underlying data unreliable. 

The Guild says that budget cutbacks at the ABS in 2008 meant that the overall monthly sample size for all businesses (including pharmacies) in the Retail Business Survey (excluding supermarkets and large department stores, for which complete data is captured) was dramatically reduced from 3214 each month to just 901.

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NAPSA Charity Cup 2009 : 12/03/2009 :

The National Australian Pharmacy Students’ Association has announced that the inaugural NAPSA Charity Cup will be supporting The Fred Hollows Foundation’s Indigenous Programs.

Each of the 14 NAPSA Branches are encouraged to hold an event or events in the month of April to raise funds and awareness for the chosen national charity. Students are encouraged to be creative in their fundraising endeavours.

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PSA Board endorses 'no pharmacies in supermarkets' policy : 11/03/2009 :

At its February Board meeting the PSA Board endorsed a policy opposing the prescence of pharmacies in supermarkets. The PSA Board believes that  pharmacies located in supermarkets would not:

  • Provide an environment that is conducive for good health care;
  • Promote the principles of quality use of medicines;
  • Promote a professional image expected of a health professional.

You can read the policy in full on the PSA website here.




Poll: pharmacies and alternative medicines : 11/03/2009 :

Last week saw another attack on pharmacy for stocking 'alternative' medicines and other products of dubious efficacy. This time the attack came (again) from the Australian Skeptics (link).

"You sell a growing number of products for which there is little or no scientific evidence of efficacy. Calling them “alternative” does not make them work. Examples include homeopathic preparations, magnetic pain relief devices, detox programmes, dodgy weight loss products and ear candles. Such products commonly appear in a “Natural Medicine” section of pharmacies but are sometimes displayed alongside real medicines whose benefits are scientifically proven."

To what extent do you think this issue damages the image of pharmacists in Australia? Please let us know by voting in this week's AusPharm poll below.




Tasmanian pharmacists lead the way on smoking cessation : 10/03/2009 :

Tasmanian pharmacists have entered into a coalition with Quit Tasmania and the Tasmanian Department of Health and Human Services to assist smokers kick the habit.

The project was launched by the Tasmanian Health Minister Lara Giddings last Friday and the first of the Community Pharmacy TV ads ran on Sunday night. Smokers wishing to quit are encouraged to visit their community pharmacy, where a formal referral is made to Quit Tasmania. Even before the TV ads commenced a number of referral had already been made.

PSA State President Dr Shane Jackson told AusPharm that, "We see that community pharmacy has a key role to play in the fight against smoking."

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Pharmacists and CMI - Guild President responds : 09/03/2009 :

Researchers from the University of South Australia recently concluded  that pharmacists still don't seem to be performing up to scratch with CMIs.

In response to the study consumer organisation CHOICE has called  for consumers to be given a greater say in the CPA5 negotiations (link).

Guild President Kos Sclavos was interviewed by ABC News Radio about this on Friday - you can hear the interview here.




Paperless prescriptions one step closer : 09/03/2009 :

GPs and pharmacists will soon be able to exchange prescriptions electronically, with the partnering of medical software specialist Best Practice and national electronic prescriptions platform eRx Script Exchange. Best Practice is delivering the final vital connection that allows GPs and medical specialists to send electronic prescriptions, through integration of their clinical management software.

eRx Script Exchange will enable GPs to send prescriptions electronically through a secure, encrypted gateway, for later retrieval at a patient’s pharmacy of choice. All doctors, medical facilities and pharmacies will be able to access eRx Script Exchange, no matter what software they use.

The Australia-wide launch is due by mid 2009. Pharmacists can have a preview of eRx script exchange at APP in April.




RGH E-Bulletin: Educational visiting service from clinical pharmacists : 09/03/2009 :

The topic of this week's RGH E-Bulletin is Educational visiting service from clinical pharmacists.

"Academic detailing is an established, evidence-based method for influencing prescriber behaviour, but recently has largely been practiced in the community setting. In 2008 a visiting program was implemented at RGH with the aim of increasing prescriber awareness around the prescribing of renally cleared medicines. The need for this became apparent through information gathered from local quality assurance activities, as well as documentation of clinical pharmacy interventions in a departmental monitoring system."

Click here to read the bulletin in full.

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




PSA: Pharmacists’ caring reputation based on experience : 09/03/2009 :

A report in Friday’s Sydney Morning Herald newspaper claiming pharmacists do not live up to their claims of being caring professionals is without substance and totally ignores the reality of pharmacy practice in the Australian community, says PSA President Warwick Plunkett. According to Mr Plunkett, the caring reputation pharmacists enjoyed in the community had been earned by the profession’s commitment and dedication to the communities that pharmacists served.

“The caring nature of pharmacists is backed up by consumers themselves who have over the past 20 years consistently rated pharmacists among the top professions in the annual Morgan poll,” Mr Plunkett said.

“Every day there are examples in this country of how pharmacists go out of their way to care for the communities in which they serve.  This is recognised in the support and loyalty of customers who rate their local pharmacists so highly,” Mr Plunkett said.




AusPharm CE: RGH E-Bulletin Digest No. 9 : 06/03/2009 :

Last week we published the latest of our online CE activities for 2009, the RGH E-Bulletin Digest No. 9.

This CE assesses your understanding of five recent RGH Pharmacy E-Bulletins (Volumes 32:10 to 33:1  --> December 2008 - February 2009).

  • Christmas Edition - (interpreting clinical trials)
  • Rivaroxaban
  • Ambulatory glycaemic control - recent developments
  • Parasomnias and psychiatric adverse effects with zolpidem

This activity has been accredited by the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia as a Group 2 activity for 1 point. Accreditation number: CX090022d.

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On open letter to the pharmacists of Australia : 05/03/2009 :

The Australian Skeptics have written to the pharmacists of Australia asking them to give up their evil ways and return to the (evidence based, health care focused) fold.

'Listers will recall that the Skeptics awarded Australian pharmacy their Bent Spoon Award for 2006 (watch the award presentation here, read our story at the time here).

"The Bent Spoon Award for 2006 went to the pharmacists of Australia who manage to forget their scientific training long enough to sell quackery and snake oil in places where consumers should expect to get real medical supplies and advice."

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200+ pharmacies wanted: that's a PROMISe : 05/03/2009 :

Community pharmacies are ideally placed to assist with medication-related issues by performing clinical interventions to improve consumers’ health and lifestyle.  These clinical interventions are critical to the continued safe and optimum use of pharmaceuticals within Australia.  Currently, there is no standard recording system for these clinical interventions that occur in community pharmacy.

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia, in partnership with UTAS, USYD, UNSW, Monash and Curtin Universities, aims to create a national documentation system for community pharmacists’ interventions called the PROMISe III project (Pharmacy Recording Of Medication Incidents and Services electronic documentation system).  The project will refine, trial and evaluate a sustainable, nationwide system for the collection of information about clinical interventions from community pharmacies.

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Guild: Emergency supply system for PBS drugs needs urgent overhaul : 05/03/2009 :

The largest ever survey response from community pharmacies across Australia (n=2100) has confirmed the Guild’s concerns regarding the emergency supply arrangements for prescription only medicines.

A review of the survey results by the Guild’s Health Economics team has revealed that almost 50,000 patients a week present to a pharmacy seeking continuation of a supply of a chronic therapy medicine but do not have a repeat prescription remaining nor have immediate access to a new prescription.

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Industry: cough and cold medicines in children under 6 are safe : 05/03/2009 :

The Australian Self-Medication Industry (ASMI), the industry body representing non-prescription consumer healthcare products issued a statement yesterday reassuring parents about the safety of children’s over-the-counter cough and cold medicines.

This followed a recommendation by the U.K. Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) (link) that medicines containing certain ingredients intended to relieve cough and cold symptoms should not be used in children under 6 years of age.

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MIMS March 2009 Prescribing Update : 05/03/2009 :

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Medication chart as prescription : 04/03/2009 :

"More and more doctors are avoiding working with aged care homes because they find so many complications writing and following up prescriptions. In the community the patient visits the doctor for scripts. In aged care homes the pharmacy follows up doctors for so many scripts which all run out at different times."

So writes Webstercare's Gerard Stevens in the latest issue of the Webstercare newsletter.

Also in the latest issue of the newsletter is a Manrex continuing education series article on Dry Eyes.

Click here to download a copy.




Poll result: average number of Rx in a day : 04/03/2009 :

Yesterday's AusPharm poll asked 'listers to tell us what was the average number of scripts dispensed in a (<12 hr) day per pharmacist in their pharmacy.

Our reading of the result is that 'typical' average about 200. There seems, however, to be a good number doing many more than this.

AusPharm wonders whether with new technology and good workflow >200 a day is still viewed as 'suspect'. Click the graph above to see a larger version.




Annabel: pharmacy needs to change : 03/03/2009 :

AusPharm was fortunate enough to be in the audience in Sydney at last month's JR Pharmacy Services / Pharmacy Practice Foundation 'Winning at Pharmacy Retail' seminar.

Internationally acclaimed retail consultant Will Anders as well as local icons Bruce Annabel and Hilary Kahn gave presentations that looked at the challenges facing community pharmacy in Australia and suggested some possible ways to rise to them.

Bruce Annabel mounted a compelling case that most pharmacies in Australia were ill prepared for the what lay ahead.

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