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AusPharm news

Guild celebrates 80th birthday : 08/10/2008 :

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia celebrated its 80th birthday in Melbourne, the “birthplace of the Guild”, at a dinner on Saturday 4 October 2008.

500 guests were in attendance, including a “who’s who” from the past and present of the Guild and pharmacy industry. The celebrations included a presentation of 50 Years Service Medals to 22 pharmacists from around Australia, in recognition of their long standing membership of the Guild.

Pictured below at the dinner (L to R) are: Guild Branch Presidents Judith Liauw, Lenette Mullins, Nunzio Meta, Dipak Sangvhi, Kos Sclavos, Pat Reid and Tim Logan. Click the photo to see a larger version. (Photo courtesy Pharmacy Guild of Australia)

Launched on the night was a new book “Ready Prepared - The History of The Pharmacy Guild of Australia 1928 – 2008”, penned by former Guild Executive Director Stephen Greenwood.

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Round two of Rural Pharmacy Project funding announced : 08/10/2008 :

Following the success of the first funding round announced in April, the Pharmacy Guild of Australia is looking to fund more small healthcare projects in rural and remote communities.

As part of the Small Project Funding Scheme, grants of up to $20,000 are available for projects that provide health benefits to rural communities and display a capacity to continue these benefits after completion.


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The importance of responding to clinical advice : 07/10/2008 :

The September 2008 issue of the Victorian Residential Aged Care Coronial Communique contains a report of an RACF resident who died following an unexplained episode of hypoglycaemia.

In the report the Coroner noted that, in a DMMR report, the reviewing pharmacist had recommended BSL monitoring for the resident (because she was taking Madopar for Parkinson's Disease) but that this recommendation had not been acted on.

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VALMER HMR submission deadline extended : 07/10/2008 :

Pharmacists now have an extra month to collect HMR data for the VALMER study. The original cut-off date for HMR submissions was 17 October but owing to a slow start to data collection, this date has now been extended to 14 November.

The extra month for data collection will allow those enrolled pharmacists who have not yet submitted their HMRs to finalise them and contribute to the study. Pharmacists who have not yet enrolled in the study are still able to get involved and submit some HMRs.

More information is available at the VALMER website here.

PSA supports calls for publicly funded weight-loss programs : 06/10/2008 :

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) has supported recent calls for publicly funded weight-loss programs to be made available to all Australians.
The Federal Parliament’s House Standing Committee on Health and Ageing has been conducting its Inquiry into Obesity in Australia since March this year (link). Linda Selvey from Queensland Health told an inquiry hearing last week that Medicare rebates should be made available for accredited weight control programs.
PSA Vice-President Shane Jackson supported the overall concept of the Federal Government funding accredited weight-loss programs as part of its focus on preventive-health policies.

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October is beyondblue’s Anxiety and Depression Awareness (ADA) Month : 06/10/2008 :

beyondblue wants all Australians to focus on raising awareness of anxiety and depression during October, which is designated Anxiety and Depression Awareness (ADA) Month.

Oct. 5 - 11 is Mental Health Week and Oct. 10 (this Friday) is World Mental Health Day.

While depression affects one in five people in Australia at some point in their lives, anxiety disorders are even more common. 1 million adults and 100,000 young people experience depression each year. 1.3 million people experience anxiety disorders each year - that’s 7 per cent of males and 12 per cent of females.

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Should there be a pharmacist on the premises at all times? : 03/10/2008 :

If this week's poll outcome (n=187) is any guide, yes. Or no. Or maybe.

Respondents to our poll were very evenly split across the options. In fact, if we'd included an equivalent 'gentle no' option to match the 'gentle yes' option of 'maybe, I'm a little uneasy about it' we might well have got four outcomes all at about 25%.

While AusPharm doesn't have a firm opinion either way on this the thought that did occur to us as we watched the votes come in was that, if pharmacies were allowed to remain open while the pharmacist wasn't there, the market would soon determine whether or not this was a good idea in a particular location. Customers certainly would vote with their feet if they objected to being unable to access scheduled products or get scripts dispensed.

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Pharmacy academic says TGA should be more transparent : 03/10/2008 :

In an editorial in this month's Australian Prescriber, Senior Research Fellow at the Quality Use of Medicines and Pharmacy Research Centre, University of South Australia, Agnes Vitry, sets out the reasons why the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) needs to be more open and transparent in its work.

Dr Vitry refers to a recent study comparing the provision of information on the websites of national drug regulatory agencies, noting that the TGA ranked among the most 'secret' of the agencies. "Assessment reports for new medicines, lists of refused or cancelled marketing authorisations, minutes of advisory meetings, and reports submitted by drug companies are not available publicly in Australia."

According to Dr Vitry, "The TGA urgently needs to take steps to improve its transparency if it wants to retain its credibility not only with the Australian public and health professionals but also on the international scene."

You can read the full editorial on the Australian Prescriber website here.

Guild announces new National Council : 02/10/2008 :

The Pharmacy Guild yesterday announced its new National Council, to serve from November 2008 to November 2011.

As expected, Kos Sclavos was re-elected unopposed as National President. There are five new faces on the Council.

  “I am pleased that we have a number of new Councillors, as they will bring freshness and enthusiasm. I look forward to their participation,” Mr Sclavos said.

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ASMI cautions pharmacists on house brand switching : 02/10/2008 :

In a statement issued yesterday, the The Australian Self-Medication Industry (ASMI) warned pharmacists that switching customers to home brands posed a risk to their customer loyalty and to their profitability.

According to ASMI, a recent mystery shopping exercise showed that approximately 13 per cent of pharmacists or pharmacy assistants attempted to switch consumers from a specific recognised branded product to a private label brand.  The study covered seven specified brands across 167 pharmacies in Sydney and Brisbane and was undertaken by Crossmark, a firm that specialises in retail brand health.

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Silence your rooster, the game : 01/10/2008 :

Here's a novel way to sell your prescription product (and a good 'Friday' story to boot).

Brought to you by the makers of Ambien® (in Australia, Stilnox®); click the screen to play the game.

Poll: should there be a pharmacist on the premises at all times? : 01/10/2008 :

In the washup to last week's 'lunch break' poll the idea has (re) emerged that perhaps pharmacies shouldn't necessarily have to have a pharmacist on site at all times in order to remain open for business.

As Peter Allen points out in an AusPharmList today, in some other places around the world this is allowed provided no scheduled medicines are sold, nor prescriptions dispensed. On the other hand, some would say that allowing this might in some way open the ownership door to the Colesworths of the world.

What do you think? Please let us know by voting in this week's AusPharm poll below.

Call for Small Rural Project Grant Project applications : 30/09/2008 :

Applications have been invited for the Rural Pharmacy Workforce Program Small Project Funding Scheme.

The Small Project Funding Scheme is an initiative of the Rural Pharmacy Workforce Program (RPWP). It is intended to support the role of community pharmacists in rural and remote communities so that innovative ideas and services can be developed and implemented.

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BP medication compliance study funded : 30/09/2008 :

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia, with the endorsement of the National Heart Foundation,is to trial a community pharmacy service to monitor compliance with blood pressure medicines.

The study, involving over 60 community pharmacies, aims to identify patients who will receive the most benefit from the service. The project also aims to develop an intervention package to be delivered by community pharmacists with the hope of improving medication compliance.

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Big Pharma educational events measure up : 30/09/2008 :

The Medicines Australia (MA) half-yearly report of member companies’ educational events found that of 15,836 educational events sponsored or provided by pharmaceutical companies, all but 21 fully comply with the Medicines Australia Code of Conduct.

The 21 events identified by the Code Monitoring Committee as potentially breaching the Code have been referred to the independent Code of Conduct Committee for a final determination.

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New QCPP TV ad : 30/09/2008 :

A new community service announcement advocating the customer benefits of the Quality Care Pharmacy Program will be launched this week during  Ask Your Pharmacist Week 2008. You can see it here.

Ask Your Pharmacist Week 2008 also sees the  commencement of voting for the 2008 Pharmacy of the Year People’s Choice. Details of Ask Your Pharmacist Week 2008 as well as resources for pharmacies are available at the website (here).

Guild ACT Branch celebrates 20 years : 29/09/2008 :

The ACT Branch of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia celebrated its 20th birthday at a celebration dinner in Canberra last Thursday night.

One of the high points of the night was the awarding to Bill Arnold of the highest award the Guild can bestow, Honorary Life Membership of the Guild.

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(UK) Pharmacy advice 'frequently poor' : 29/09/2008 :

Here's a story that will be eerily familiar to 'listers.

UK consumer advocate Which? (Aus --> CHOICE) has conducted a 'mystery shop' survey of pharmacies in the UK and found 'unsatisfactory' advice was given a third of the time. 

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Lunch-break? What's that? : 26/09/2008 :

This week's poll confirmed what we all knew anyway, that pharmacists don't get a lunch break.

Sorry, overall 22% of us do and, if you're a hospital pharmacist (54%) or a consultant pharmacist (67%) the odds are much better you'll get a lunch break. However, if you're a pharmacy owner your chances of getting a decent break from the front line drop to 15%.

AusPharm, who's worked in pharmacies for 30 years, can't see an easy solution to the 'lunch-break' problem. Watch this space early next week when we'll have a look at some of the OH&S (and patient safety) implications of this.

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PSA issues paracetamol advice : 26/09/2008 :

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia has published advice for members on how to handle customer enquiries about paracetamol use in children and the subsequent development of asthma.

PSA Vice President Dr Shane Jackson said, "We need to be practical about the approach that we take with these kind of 'new' findings. We should try and give parents useful information regarding the use of paracetamol in children, and this should be, as with all medicines, that it should be used judiciously, when there is likely to be a benefit for the child, such as the reduction of high fever or pain."

You can read the full statement here.

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