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AusPharm news

Bill's on his way to FIP 2008: Basel, Switzerland : 22/08/2008 :

AusPharm's roving reporter Bill Arnold is on his way to FIP in Basel, Switzerland next week. He had a stopover in Johannesburg on the way.

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So you arrive in Johannesburg on your way to Switzerland at the end of next week with a stuffy nose after a 14 hour flight and, the next morning, decide you need a decongestant / antihistamine combination. Starts with D?

In the very nice Sandton City Centre is a Clicks pharmacy. It is a group / franchise / company, reminiscent to me of our Priceline concept. Trolleys and baskets at the entrance, checkouts massed merchandise.

But wait. At the back, a very professional area the width of the store. Left half Prescriptions; right half Self Medication (see photo below). Each side has a queuing system. For prescriptions, no come back in xxx minutes, you actually stand and chat while a pharmacist processes, gets and labels product, bags and tags, then next please. And look (above) at the services they offer.

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Poll result: scripts for 20+ zolpidem : 22/08/2008 :

In light of last week's AusPharm poll which determined that pharmacies are seeing substantially fewer scripts for zolpidem since news broke of the bizarre side effects it can cause, this week's poll looked at the quantities being prescribed and how people handle these. Early in 2008 the TGA advised prescribers to prescribe and pharmacists to dispense no more than 14 at a time. However, given that pharmacies are still seeing scripts for 20 tablets or more at a time we asked how people were handling scrips for 20+ tablets.

The results, shown below, tell us that about a third of respondents are heeding the TGA advice to dispense no more than 14 at a time with another 9% discussing the issues with patients and dispensing more than 14. However, 55% of respondents seem to be dispensing scripts for 20 or more tablets 'as written'.


AusPharm sought advice as to the status of the TGA 'advice' with two of the Pharmacy Boards when this 'advice' was issued. It was suggested to us that even 'though this was 'advice' (not a 'requirement'), in the event of misadventure the Boards were highly likely to consider this TGA advice as highly relevant. This suggests to AusPharm that the 55% mentioned above might usefully revisit their policy for handling scripts for 20+ zolpidem.




New resource to assist in treating children with gastroenteritis : 21/08/2008 :

A new resource is available for GPs, pharmacists and parents aimed at improving management of gastroenteritis in children. This follows concerns that antibiotics are still being inappropriately prescribed and sugary drinks wrongly used for rehydration.

A booklet entitled “Diarrhoea In Children - Initial Assessment and Management” has been authored by several leading Australian specialists and produced by the Gut Foundation as a guide for treating Australian children.

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Changes to indications, PBS listings for rosiglitazone : 21/08/2008 :

Amid ongoing safety concerns, the approved indications and PBS listings for rosiglitazone are to change. Details are available at the PBS website here and in today's mainstream media (eg here).

Patients concerned about these reports should be advised to see their GPs.




New drug for type 2 diabetes: is it as good? : 20/08/2008 :

An NPS RADAR review of sitagliptin (Januvia), the first of a new class of oral drugs for improving glycaemic control in type 2 diabetes, was recently published online here. It is a new drug in a new class that provides another option for improving blood glucose control in diabetes, but its effect on diabetes-related complications and mortality is not known.The NPS RADAR review of sitagliptin reminds prescribers that when it comes to weighing up treatment options for people with diabetes, some drugs do have evidence for preventing diabetes-related complications as well as a more established safety profile.

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Missing NAPSA information: help needed please : 20/08/2008 :

On display at the recent National Australian Pharmacy Students’ Association (NAPSA) Annual General Meeting Dinner, held in Perth last month, were the NAPSA honour boards. Sadly, much of NAPSA's history has been lost or forgotten over the years. In particular there are missing names on the President's honour board. According to NAPSA, while it proudly represents tomorrow's pharmacists, it also cherishes the past and seeks to learn from it.

NAPSA is actively seeking to fill the honour board gaps. The missing presidents are from 1949, 1952 56, 1964 65, 1972, 1978, 1982, 1984 86 and 1988. Can you help? If so, contact NAPSA National President Lisa Goldsmith.

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Poll: scripts for 20+ zolpidem : 20/08/2008 :

Last week's AusPharm poll determined that pharmacies are seeing substantially fewer scripts for zolpidem since news broke of the bizarre side effects it can cause.

But what scripts are people seeing? In AusPharm's experience, scripts are still mostly for 20 (or more) tablets. In light of the TGA advice that prescribers prescribe and pharmacists dispense no more than 14 at a time how are you handling zolpidem scripts for 20+ tablets in the pharmacy you work in? Please let us know by voting in this week's AusPharm poll at left.




Zuellig wins Symbion : 20/08/2008 :

Primary Healthcare announced yesterday that it had sold its pharmacy assets (ie Symbion) to Hong Kong based Zuellig Pharma Ltd.

The details are well covered in today's mainstream media. Links to these articles are available to premium members in today's AusPharm 'In the news' section'.




Single dose EHC to launch September 1 : 20/08/2008 :

Bayer Schering Pharma announced last week that a new single dose Emergency Hormonal Contraceptive product will be available from 1st September 2008. Postinor-1® contains 1.5mg of levonorgestrel and is indicated for use within 72 hours of unprotected intercourse. According to the Postinor-1® PI, the one tablet regimen appears to be more effective than the two tablet regimen taken twelve hours apart.

Due to the introduction of Postinor-1®, Postinor-2 will be phased out progressively until existing stock is exhausted. For more information or to download support materials visit the Postinor-1® website (password: ectablet).




The week's PHARMeFOOTY winners : 19/08/2008 :

This week's top 'lister PHARMeFOOTY tippers were:

  • NRL: Brendan Mahon, from Victoria, who tipped 7 from 8
  • AFL: David Vuong, also from from Victoria and who also tipped 7 from 8
Brendan and David will each receive one of our AusPharm pens and a FRED OFFICE flash drive (1Gb) and will be invited to be our 'guest' celebrity tipper one week soon.

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EpiPen shortages possible : 19/08/2008 :

The Australian agents for EpiPen, CSL, report that the 300mcg/0.3ml auto-injector may be unavailable for a brief period in September.

The shortage is caused by manufacturing difficulties being experienced by the US supplier. The 150mcg/0.3ml auto-injector will continue to be available as usual.

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New online smoking cessation learning program : 18/08/2008 :

A new online learning program, Clearing the Smoke, is now available to healthcare professionals to assist them help their patients with smoking cessation.

Clearing the Smoke was developed by Ogilvy Healthworld and funded by Pfizer Australia.

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CHOICE not the best choice for health advice : 18/08/2008 :

So says Medicines Australia CEO, Ian Chalmers, in an article in last Saturday's Australian newspaper.

Mr Chalmers, presumably speaking on behalf of Medicines Australia members, took particular exception to the CHOICE article Pushing Pills, in which CHOICE claimed that doctors were unnecessarily prescribing overly expensive, newer anti-hypertensive drugs instead of the equally good, older and cheaper chlorthalidone, citing the 2003 Cardiovascular Therapeutic Guidelines as a reference.

According to Mr Chalmers, CHOICE's advice is incorrect and it is "providing a public commentary way beyond its expertise". His article is an interesting read. You can read it here.




NPS needs your help : 15/08/2008 :

The National Prescribing Service (NPS) will introduce a new program in September that explores the evidence for the symptomatic treatment of dementia titled Treating the symptoms of dementia.

In the past NPS has collected information which assesses the value of programs to pharmacists by paper-based surveys. For the first time, NPS is collecting this valuable information from pharmacists electronically. We would greatly appreciate your assistance in completing a 5 minute pre-program survey to assist us to evaluate this program and ensure it is of value to pharmacists.

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Poll result: less zolpidem being dispensed : 15/08/2008 :

On Monday NPS released a new position statement on zolpidem (Stilnox) and sleep-related behaviours. This followed earlier reviews and regulatory change following reports of bizaare side effects including sleep walking, driving and eating. The TGA advised that prescribers prescribe and pharmacists dispense not more than 14 tablets at a time.

The release of the NPS position statement prompted us to ask 'listers whether all the publicity on zolpidem over the last 12 months had actually translated into fewer prescriptions. The result of the poll shows clearly that the efforts of NPS and the TGA have not gone unrewarded, with what seems to AusPharm to be considerably fewer zolpidem scripts in circulation.




Selim Salabim - some residual magic for Jim? : 15/08/2008 :

Today's newspapers have blanket coverage of yesterday's announcement that the TGA has agreed to pay PAN Pharmaceuticals founder Jim Selim $50 million plus costs to settle his action against them. You'll find links to many of these stories in today's In the news section below.

AusPharm thinks that there may still be much water to flow under this particular bridge before the story ends. It is certain that heads will roll at the TGA and highly likely that other actions will be launched against the TGA over the PAN debacle.




Recruitment for Diabetes Pilot Stage 2 begins : 14/08/2008 :

Recruitment has begun for up to 800 pharmacies to participate in Stage 2 of the Diabetes Pilot Program, implementing the Diabetes Medication Assistance Service (DMAS) within their community pharmacy.

Community pharmacies in both rural and metropolitan locations that meet the eligibility requirements are able to participate. Selection will be on a "first in first served" basis by Pharmacy Access/Remoteness Index of Australia (PhARIA).

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Two months to go to PAC 2008, Perth, Oct 24-26 : 14/08/2008 :

Two highlights of PAC 2008 will be a presentation from 2007 Australian Pharmacist of the Year, Emeritus Professor Lloyd Sansom AO, Ready or Not - a Snapshot of the new APF 21 and Curtin Universtity School of Pharmacy students Paul Buise and Christine Nguyen will tell delegates about their experiences of working for four weeks in the Anana Niketan mental institution in the Katula region of India.

Paul and Christine are part of a Curtin University program where, with occupational therapists, speech therapists and physiotherapists, pharmacy students form an inter-disciplinary team working in India for a service-learning experience.

For more information about PAC 2008 and to register, visit the PAC website.




Labelling of items with multiple packs: PDL, Boards respond : 13/08/2008 :

Last week's AusPharm poll determined that a significant proportion of pharmacists label scripts for 120 Panadeine Forte by sticking either three or six boxes together and affixing ONE label to the resulting 'outer'.

In our poll analysis on Friday we said that we'd see about getting comment on the poll result from both PDL and the Boards. John Coppock, PDL Chairman, has responded to our request, as has NSW Pharmacy Board President, Gerry McInerney. We were also able to get an 'unofficial' comment from one of the other Boards.

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Poll: less zolpidem being dispensed? : 13/08/2008 :

On Monday NPS released a new position statement on zolpidem (Stilnox) and sleep-related behaviours. This followed earlier reviews and regulatory change following reports of bizaare side effects including sleep walking, driving and eating. The TGA advised that prescribers prescribe and pharmacists dispense not more than 14 tablets at a time.

Has all of this made much difference to the amount of zolpidem being dispensed in the pharmacy you work in? Please let us know by voting in this week's AusPharm poll below. ('Listers might like to check their dispensing stats to get true figures).




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