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AusPharm news

Big Boost for Rural and Indigenous Pharmacy Students : 10/11/2008 :

Know someone from a rural area who is currently enrolled in a full-time B.Pharm or M.Pharm degree? Or maybe a rural high school student who wants to study Pharmacy? Make sure they know about The Rural and Remote Pharmacy Workforce Development Program Scholarships - they may be eligible for a scholarship of up to $40,000 to assist them whilst they study!

The Rural and Remote Pharmacy Workforce Development Program recognises the key role that pharmacists play in maintaining the health of all Australians and aims to ensure the continued viability of rural pharmacies. In 2009, thirty scholarships of $10,000 per annum will be offered to encourage and enable students from rural communities to embark on fulfilling and rewarding careers in pharmacy. A further three scholarships of $15,000 per annum will be available to Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander students. The scholarships are funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing and managed by the Pharmacy Guild of Australia.

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Pharmacist Only Somac in pharmacies this month : 07/11/2008 :

The first proton pump inhibitor (PPI) to be introduced as a Pharmacist Only Medicine in Australia – Somac Heartburn Relief (Pantoprazole 20mg) – will be available in pharmacies this month.

A comprehensive educational kit (including the exact definition of heartburn or reflux, a treatment algorithm, referral pads and condition assessment checklist) has also been developed by manufacturer Nycomed for the launch of Somac Heartburn Relief to ensure pharmacists are aware of 'when to treat' or 'when to refer'. The heartburn treatment algorithm has outlined atypical symptoms ("red-flags") to ensure immediate referral to GPs when this is appropriate.

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Poll result: PBS online yeah.... : 07/11/2008 :

This week's poll asked lister's how they found the day to day operation of PBS Online now that it has been part of pharmacy life for a couple of years now.

The results show that, in the main, people (n=90) are happy with it and it is minimally intrusive. And this is without asking owners what they think about the greatly improved cash flow that was part and parcel of its introduction!

It would be interesting to know whether there is any common theme for the 13% who reported that PBSOL does go down regularly and does cause some grief.

Click the link to see a breakdown of the results.

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Tassie pharmacy wins national award : 07/11/2008 :

Westside Pharmacy, in Ulverstone on Tasmania's north-west coast, has been awarded the top prize in the pharmacy/natural health store category in the 2008 Australian Small Business Champion awards.

Pharmacy owner Judy Liauw accepted the award at a presentation ceremony in Sydney last weekend.

Judy, pictured at right at the recent Pharmacy Australia Congress, is President of the Tasmanian branch of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, a Guild National Councilor and the immediate past Chair of the Australian Association of Consultant Pharmacy.

How to bring a new complementary medicine to market in Australia : 05/11/2008 :

Last week in Sydney the Complementary Healthcare Council held an Advertising Compliance Seminar, designed to assist sponsors of complementary medicines to comply with the various rules and regulations that apply to the advertising of these products.

A presentation from Robert Forbes (a regulatory affairs consultant) gave a fascinating case study on how to bring a new herbal product to the Australian market.

His brief was to create a new product based on Rhodiola rosea (recently approved by the TGA's Complementary Medicines Evaluation Committee [CMEC]) with the marketing proposition, "Turbo Charge; Instant energy for middle aged active people". 

To differentiate it from other Rhodiola products he suggested adding CoQ10 which would allow "increased stamina and endurance over time" to be added to the marketing claim.

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Poll: PBS online, how is it now? : 05/11/2008 :

AusPharm has received a couple of emails recently expressing frustration with PBS online. " ... we are really p*ssed off with the on again/off again PBS on line at present. The last few weeks have seen it be so on and off that you are continually getting blue warnings when it comes back."

What is your experience of the PBS online day to day functionality now that it's been part community pharmacy life for a couple of years now? Please let us know by voting in this week's poll below.

Prestigious Award for Clinical Trials Expert : 04/11/2008 :

Mitch Kirkman, manager of clinical research at Novartis Pharmaceuticals Australia and founding chair of Medicines Australia's Research and Development Taskforce, has won the 2008 Pat Clear Award.

Presented annually at Medicines Australia's AGM, this coveted award recognises an outstanding level of commitment and innovation by an individual, group, or team toward the benefit of the Australian pharmaceutical industry.

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RGH E-Bulletin: Management of hypercalcaemia : 03/11/2008 :

The topic of this week's RGH E-Bulletin is Management of hypercalcaemia.

"In many laboratories the reference range for normal, corrected plasma calcium is between 2.10 - 2.55mmol/L, influenced by the serum albumin concentration because of the variable extent of protein binding. The clinical presentation of hypercalcaemia is variable: while a chronic elevation to 3.0-3.5mmol/L may present with mild symptoms or be asymptomatic, an acute rise to the same level may present with symptoms including fatigue, muscle weakness, confusion,
thirst, polyuria, anorexia and constipation. Treatment strategies for hypercalcaemia depend on the extent of elevation, whether the patient is symptomatic, and whether the underlying cause is known."

Click here to read the bulletin in full.

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

Codral® performance in expanding market nothing to sneeze at : 03/11/2008 :

Johnson & Johnson's investment in a multi-million dollar pharmacy support campaign for the Codral® brand appears to have paid dividends. Despite new entrants into the Phenylephrine sector of the market during the 2008 winter season, Codral continues to hold around 60% market share of the solid dose Cold & Flu category, according to Aztec Scantrack data. The category as a whole experienced growth of 4.7% in retail sales and 13% stock units sold over the previous year.  

A national Newspoll survey conducted by Johnson & Johnson Pacific in July 2008 indicated 94% of Australians choose a well-known cold and flu brand or product, and 83% of people choose a cold and flu product based on its ability to treat a range of different symptoms. Worth bearing in mind perhaps when assisting our customers with their selections?

Varenicline: Both Effective and Cost Effective. : 03/11/2008 :

A report commissioned by the NSW Cancer Institute examining current evidence for pharmacotherapies used in Australia for smoking cessation evaluated both Nicotine Replacement Therapies and prescription medicines, with Pfizer's Champix® (varenicline) revealed as one of the most cost effective treatments currently available for smoking cessation, avoiding between 1,600-1,800 tobacco related deaths per 100,000 smokers.

The health benefits of quitting smoking are undisputed, but the process can be extremely difficult. Good news then for the estimated 60 percent of Australian smokers intending to reduce their use of tobacco, as the analysis illustrates patients undertaking ANY pharmacotherapy are more likely to remain smokefree at 6-12 months than both their counterparts attempting to quit cold turkey and those taking a placebo.

And for any pharmacists still wondering whether they are making a difference? The Ministerial Council on Drug Strategy estimates the cost savings associated with avoided mortality due to reduced tobacco use in Australia over the last 30 years to be a massive $8.6 billion.

Prize an eye-opener for Young Pharmacist : 03/11/2008 :

Cairns-based Georgina Lippis (pictured with IMShealth's Perry Stam, click for a bigger image) is the inaugural recipient of the Australian College of Pharmacy Practice & Management's (ACPPM) IMS Young Pharmacist Innovation Grant.

Georgie has recently returned from Basle, Switzerland, where she attended the FIP (International Pharmaceutical Federation) Conference, funded by the ACPPM/IMS grant.

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API reports full year results : 31/10/2008 :

Australian Pharmaceutical Industries (API) yesterday reported its full year results for the year ending August 31, 2008.

The company reported total revenue of $3.24 billion (+22% on previous year) with earnings before interest and tax of $49.7 million (+32% on previous year) and net profit after tax of $15.2 million (+$26.5 million on previous year).  It has declared a fully franked dividend of 1c per share.

API Managing Director and CEO, Stephen Roche, said that the results demonstrated a focus on strategic objectives and continued operational improvement and were pleasing "particularly in light of the slower retail trading environment and managing the implementation of the largest ever change in pharmaceutical pricing through the PBS Reforms in July and August".

Perhaps these positive results will have an impact on API's share price, which has taken a hammering this year - they were trading at around $1.80 back in May and were trading in the low 50c range after the release of the full years results yesterday (click the image to see a larger version).

PSA: Pharmacy profession stands ready to support preventative health strategies : 31/10/2008 :

Pharmaceutical Society of Australia National President Warwick Plunkett, pictured at right, said yesterday that the Federal Government’s strong focus on developing effective preventative health policies has the potential to greatly benefit the Australian community.

He added that the pharmacy profession was well placed to offer cost-effective support for implementation of many of the initiatives being considered by the Preventative Health Taskforce.

“One of the major advantages of using the existing network of community pharmacies as part of any integrated health strategy is accessibility,” Mr Plunkett said.

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Poll result: who goes to PAC? : 31/10/2008 :

This week's poll asked 'listers to indicate how often they attend a PAC conference, this year held in Perth just last weekend, and if they don't attend, why this is so.

If I was the PSA events manager I think I'd be fairly happy with the poll result. 40% of respondents attend at least 'sometimes' with a further 18% indicating that they 'might go one day'. Only 20% said that 'other events better meet my needs' with a further 15% saying that it cost too much.

There you go PSA - see if you can find out what might motivate the 20% who 'might go one day' AND drop the price a little and PAC might get even bigger in the years to come!

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Sigma first half results positive : 30/10/2008 :

Sigma Pharmaceuticals yesterday reported generally upbeat results for the half year ending July 31, 2008.

The company showed an increase over the same period in the previous year of 28.7% for earnings before income tax, deprecation and amortisation, a small increase in net profit after tax and an increase in earnings per share from 3c to 3.6c compared to the previous year. The company has declared an interim dividend of 3c per share and confirmed it is on track to deliver its full year guidance of Reported Net Profit After Tax in the range of $83 million to $88 million for the full year ending 31 January 2009.

Full details are available on the Sigma website here

TGA legal expenditure : 30/10/2008 :

The Therapeutic Goods Administration is legislatively required to publicly report its annual legal services expenditure by October 30 each year (link).

This year's numbers have just been released by the TGA and show a total expenditure of some $2.6 million, $541,000 of which was spent on lawyers external to the agency's own legal branch.

AusPharm wonders how much of this was expended on the Selim/PAN case and how much next year's numbers will be given the pending PAN related class action(s).

Industry survey says hay fever sufferers look to pharmacy : 29/10/2008 :

Released this week, an industry survey has shown that Australian pharmacists are being called on by hay fever sufferers above all other health care professionals to assist in the management of symptoms.

When asked the reasoning behind their choice to consult a pharmacist in the management of hay fever symptoms, survey respondents
noted convenience, knowledge and face-to-face contact provided by pharmacists and pharmacy assistants as the key drivers for choice. 

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Poll: Pharmacy Australia Congress, I go : 29/10/2008 :

'Listers will be aware that AusPharm was in  Perth over the weekend for the 2009 Pharmacy Australia Congress, the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia's annual awards and CE extravaganza.

It was a terrific event, as they almost always are. Did you go? Do you ever go to PAC? If not, why not?

Please let us know by ticking the relevant box below in this week's AusPharm poll.

Pharmacy student of the year award goes to Sydney Uni student : 28/10/2008 :

One of the highlights of the Pharmacy Australia Congress each year is the PSA Alphapharm Pharmacy Student of the Year counselling competition.

There were eight students vying for this year's award with University of Sydney student Natalie Tasker, pictured at right (click for a larger image) coming out on top both with the official judges and in the 'people's choice' award.

Natalie wins an all expenses paid trip to next year's International Pharmacy Student Federation Congress in Bali, valued at $6,500.

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Accredited Pharmacists Forum at PAC : 27/10/2008 :

The Australian Association of Consultant Pharmacy conducted an accredited pharmacists' forum in Perth last Friday, the day before the commencement of the Pharmacy Australia Congress proper.

While numbers were down on previous years, probably due to the far flung location, those in attendance enjoyed a terrific day of clinical updates from Jeff Hughes, Debbie Rigby, Andrew James, Marcus Weidinger and others.

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