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AusPharm news

Nominations now open for pharmacy 'Dream team' : 02/06/2008 :

Two unrelated events got us thinking recently. One was the announcement that nominations had opened for this year’s Pharmaceutical Society of Australia’s Excellence Awards and the other was the AFL’s Victoria vs ‘Dream Team’ match. Well, what about a pharmacy ‘Dream Team’ or 'Team of the century'?

If we could choose emminent pharmacists from any time in history, who would be in such a team whose charter it would be to provide pharmacy services to the Australian community?

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1960 NSW Pharmacy Qualifying Exams results : 01/06/2008 :

Thanks to all those who sent in their thoughts on what was 'the best interpretation' of Q2 in the 1960 NSW Pharmacy Qualifying Exams. You can see the original question here.
We've decided to award two prizes, one to Peter Bayly for his effort and another to Rollo Manning for actually doing what the question in the exam paper asked for (although not what we asked for). Other entries were very close to this but missed the (implied but not stated) essential Pulv Trag Co qs.

Click the More...... link to see both their efforts and the actual 'answer' as provided to AusPharm by Bill.

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Two Tasmanian deaths involving methadone : 30/05/2008 :

Tasmanian Coroner Stephen Carey recently completed his investigations and handed down his findings into the deaths of two Tasmanian men who died of drug overdoses involving methadone, benzodiazepines and other drugs.

Mr Carey raised some concerns and made several recommendations in relation to these deaths including that there is a need for more vigour in assessing people as 'suitable' for inclusion in pharmacotherapy programs. He also lent support to the notion of moving away from methadone and towards buprenorphine use in such programs because of its better safety profile and need for fewer 'takeaway' doses.

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Poll result: what about glucosamine? : 30/05/2008 :

This week's poll asked 'listers how they viewed the evidence for glucosamine and whether or they recommend it to patients.

This followed the release earlier this month of consumer group CHOICE's review of glucosamine (click here) for the relief of pain in arthritis. Its media release had it that: "A study of all the research available suggests that - despite its popularity among osteoarthritis sufferers - there’s little evidence to suggest taking products containing glucosamine offers anything other than a placebo effect.'" A fortnight later Symbion Consumer Division hit back, running advertisements (click here) in capital city weekend newspapers.

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Progress towards personal electronic health records? : 29/05/2008 :

The National E-Health Transition Authority announced yesterday that it is hosting a summit with peak bodies in the healthcare sector to discuss the introduction of Individual Electronic Health Record (IEHR) for all Australians. The event will be held in Canberra on June 18.

Topics up for discussion include preparedness to introduce e-health and an overview of IEHR, issues around the introduction of unique health identification for clinicians and patients, governance, privacy and other policy matters, implementation and business adoption issues and management of public consultation.

Both the Pharmacy Guild and the PSA have been invited to attend. A full list of organisations invited along is here.




Stop The Clot - Reducing Blood Clot Risk For Hospital Patients : 29/05/2008 :

A new national prevention program to stop potentially lethal blood clots developing in private hospital patients was launched in Canberra yesterday by Minister for Health and Ageing, Nicola Roxon.

Titled Stop the Clot, this program was developed by the National Health and Medical Research Council's National Institute of Clinical Studies (NICS) and successfully implemented in over 40 public hospitals nationally. Now NICS is working with the private hospital sector to reduce the incidence of blood clots in private hospitals.

For more information, click here.




Poll: glucosamine schmosamine? : 28/05/2008 :

Earlier this month consumer group CHOICE published a review of glucosamine for the relief of pain in arthritis. Its media release had it that: "A study of all the research available suggests that - despite its popularity among osteoarthritis sufferers - there’s little evidence to suggest taking products containing glucosamine offers anything other than a placebo effect.'"

Two weekends back, Symbion Consumer Division hit back, running advertisements in capital city weekend newspapers (click the image at right to see a larger version of the ad). The advertisment contained the sentence: “One thing we can conclude with confidence is that extensive research proves there can be a significant benefit in taking glucosamine for relief of osteoarthritis.”

Melbourne academic Dr Ken Harvey took offense at this claim (and others made in the ad), saying: "The claims made about the efficacy of glucosamine are not in accord with a balanced view of all the scientific literature available." Dr Harvey has lodged a complaint with the regulators, requesting that it fine Symbion and also that it require them to publish corrective advertising in the same major metropolitan newspapers as the offending advertisement and in a font size filling the same space." Those interested can read Dr Harvey's detailed rebuttal of the claims made in the Symbion ad here.

Where do you stand on glucosamine? Please let us know by voting in this week's AusPharm poll (at left).




Guild puts PBS Reform Presentation on the Web : 28/05/2008 :

In an initiative designed to ensure all members, including those who are in rural and remote Australia, as well as those who were not able to attend their recent ScriptMap presentations in person, the Pharmacy Guild has made a PBS Reform online presentation available to its members.
The video details all the key dates and action steps in the lead up to 1 August 2008. Guild members can access the presentation here.




Calling all Old Pharts
: 27/05/2008 :

We've had a couple of entries in so far for our competition but just to make sure all you OFs have plenty of opportunity to have a go at this we've extended the deadline for entries until SATURDAY night at midnight.
Here's a challenge for those of you with an eye to history.

In today's (e)news we've republished the first 2 pages of the 1960 NSW Pharmacy Qualifying Exams. An AusPharm pen to the best interpretation of Question 2(a) returned to us by midnight THURSDAY night.

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More ClexaneŽ Recalled : 27/05/2008 :

Sanaofi Aventis yesterday recalled another batch of Clexane®.

Click here for details.




Government issues guidelines to conserve anti-coagulant medicines : 26/05/2008 :

Guidelines for clinicians on prudent measures to manage a potential shortage of anti-coagulant medicines containing the blood thinning agent, heparin, have been issued by the federal government's Department of Health and Aging.

On April 22 the TGA recalled five batches of the widely used Clexane, a heparin product, due to the detection of an impurity in the affected batches.

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PSA AGM held in Canberra : 26/05/2008 :

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia held its Annual General Meeting in Canberra last Wesdnesday.

In his address PSA National President Brian Grogan emphasised that this was the first AGM of the new, truly national Pharmaceutical Society of Australia. Mr Grogan spoke of the incredible amount and variety of activities in which PSA had been involved in the preceding 12 months noting, in particular, the formation of the Australian Capital Territory Branch of the Society and predicted an even busier year ahead.
Pictured above (click for larger photo) are PSA Board members Grant Kardachi (SA), Prof. Charlie Benrimoj (NSW), Graeme Holloway (Tas), PSA President Brian Grogan (Vic), Joe DeMarte (Vic), Gabrielle Cooper (ACT), John Jackson (Vic), Debbie Rigby (Qld) (photo courtesy Bill Arnold).




CMI: light at the end of the tunnel? : 23/05/2008 :

A research project funded under the R&D component of the 4th Community Pharmacy Agreement may offer a glimmer of hope for those who have been advocating for a change in the process of delivering medicines information to patients.

Headed by Dr Parisa Aslani from University of Sydney, the project will review international and Australian literature on CMI and related forms of written medicine information and will identify and evaluate other formats available nationally and internationally in comparable community pharmacy settings.

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Poll result: payment for cognitive services : 23/05/2008 :

AusPharm acknowledges up front that our polls are not constructed with any degree of methodological rigour and, as such, you wouldn't make policy based on the results. However, we believe that they do give a sense of what people are thinking (and are a bit of fun to boot).

This week's poll was prompted by the AusPharmList discussion on issues that flowed from the PSA's position paper on pharmacists in GP Super Clinics and the Guild's response to that paper.

Guided by contributions to the GP Super Clinic discussion thread on AusPharmList, our poll asked 'listers to look beyond the specific GP Super Clinic case to the broader question of how cognitive services provided outside the four walls of a community pharmacy should be funded. We asked: [How should] payments for cognitive services provided by pharmacists outside the confines of community pharmacies be made? The results are shown (and discussed) below in some detail.

In short, they show that the exactly half of those who participated in this poll favour a system in which payments could be made either to the pharmacist providing the service or to the community pharmacy contracted to provide the service. 36% of respondents ticked the 'exclusively to the pharmacist providing the service(s)' box.

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NPS says monitor patients using varenicline : 23/05/2008 :

The National Prescribing Service has asked health professionals to monitor patients using varenicline for any behaviour and/or mood changes or any unusual symptoms or events that occur while taking the medicine. This follows reports of serious accidents, heart and vision problems in a study released in the USA recently.
“Psychiatric symptoms were previously noted so that information is not new,” said Ms Karen Kaye, Acting CEO, NPS. “But it’s important to take all reports of adverse events seriously, and this new report may be highlighting side effects that have not been previously identified.”

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Will I be in the Yarra Valley next March with ACPPM? : 22/05/2008 :

Absolutely, says AusPharm's roving reporter Bill Arnold.
At last week's Australian College of Pharmacy Practice and Management conference on Norfolk Island the scope of topics delivered and the presenters' abilities were well matched according to Bill.

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Two 2009 Pharmacy Cricket Scholarships available : 22/05/2008 :

Applications for the 2009 Pharmacy Cricket Scholarships are to close on Monday June 2.

Two scholarships to the value of $2,500 are to be awarded to a pharmacy student entering their final year of a full time pharmacy degree course in 2009. Applicants do not have to be cricketers.

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SHPA Position Statement on GP Super Clinics : 22/05/2008 :

The Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia (SHPA) issued a statement yesterday saying it welcomed a role for pharmacists as part of the multidisciplinary team in GP Super Clinics.
According to SHPA, pharmacists with skills suitable to meet the local community needs should be available at each clinic to provide services themselves, liaise with other health settings (including hospitals) and act as a broker and referral mechanism to the consumer's local community pharmacy for services available there (e.g. home medicines reviews).

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APESMA goes after the Guild on GP Super Clinics : 21/05/2008 :

The Pharmacists' Division of The Association of Professional Engineers, Scientists & Managers, Australia (PDA) issued a statement yesterday welcoming the PSA GP Super Clinic position statement and rejecting as 'alarmist nonsense' the position the Guild presented to its members in its 15 May National Newsletter.

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Poll: funding for cognitive services : 21/05/2008 :

One of the central issues raised in the current debate on pharmacist participation in GP Super Clinics (GPSCs) is what sort of funding model(s) should support the provision of cognitive services provided by pharmacists outside the four walls of a pharmacy. While the current debate centres on GPSCs, the issues remain the same in other practice settings, for example in the provision of home based services with the obvious example being Home Medicine Reviews.

Should these services be funded exclusively through community pharmacies (for whatever reason) or should any funding model also allow for payment to be made directly to the pharmacist providing the service(s)?

Our poll options are a little more complex than usual so we can see if there are differences between pharmacists who own pharmacies and pharmacists who don't. Please make a special effort to vote in this week's poll (at left)!




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