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AusPharm news

Why not upgrade to premium over the Christams break? : 24/12/2007 :

As a Christmas special AusPharm will be giving away one of our AusPharm pens to all members who upgrade to 'premium' level during December.

Why not spend 5 minutes over the Christmas break and upgrade to AusPharm premium? This will give you access to 'today's pharmacy news today' all through 2008.

To upgrade now (or commence a free trial) click here and follow the prompts.

Compliments of the season : 24/12/2007 :

AusPharm would like to wish all 'listers a happy and safe Christmas and all the best for 2008. Many thanks to you all for continuing to support us through 2007, particularly our premium members.

We will be producing the (e)news as usual over the festive season except for the public holidays, although it will be a 'cut down' version with fewer of the premium features.

Stay tuned in 2008 - we have big things planned with the roll out of our CE program in February and some other new initiatives planned for later in 2008.

PE replacing PSE in pharmacy cold tablet sales : 24/12/2007 :

Recent IMS data suggests that the 'Cold and Flu' category in pharmacy is now stabilising after a decline in 2006.

While sales of PSE containing products have fallen significantly since 2005, when PE containing products first hit the market in numbers, this decline has largely been made up by increased sales of these PE containing products.

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FDA renews safety warning on fentanyl patches : 24/12/2007 :

The US Food and Drug Administration recently issued another safety warning about fentanyl transdermal patches.


Recent reports to FDA describe deaths and life-threatening side effects after doctors and other health care professionals inappropriately prescribed the patch to relieve pain after surgery, for headaches, or for occasional or mild pain in patients who were not opioid tolerant. In other cases, patients used the patch incorrectly: The patients replaced it more frequently than directed in the instructions, applied more patches than prescribed, or applied heat to the patch – all resulting in dangerously high fentanyl levels in the blood.

To read the full FDA alert click here.

Five *million* pseud****edrine tablets? : 20/12/2007 :

Well, yes, according to the Victorian Drug Task Force's Inspector Steve Smith.

'Listers will have seen the media reports of the seizure in Melbourne on Tuesday of 5 million pseud****edrine tablets. AusPharm spoke to Inspector Smith yesterday and got the low down on what the Drug Task Force found.

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Independent retailer advocate to discuss market dominance at APP2008 : 20/12/2007 :

‘Do we want an Australia where thousands upon thousands of small entrepreneurs and independent businessmen and women have the freedom and opportunity to run their own business – or do we want a society where these freedoms are extinguished, and all necessities of life are controlled in the hands of a few giant corporations?’.

This pharmacy industry pertinent question is the main focus of a presentation on market dominance presented by South Sydney Retailers Association President, Craig Kelly, at next year’s APP.

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Pharmacy Connectivity Incentive : 20/12/2007 :

The Broadband for Health Pharmacy Program is drawing to an end. It has been replaced by the Pharmacy Connectivity Incentive (PCI) which will come in to effect on January 1st 2008.

The PCI program will provide financial incentives ranging from $700 to $880 to pharmacies to maintain business grade broadband internet connections, and will conclude on 30 June 2010.

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Poll results: what should we do with PSE? : 20/12/2007 :

It's been a big week for PSE!

This week's poll asked 'listers what they thought about taking PSE off the market. This poll was in response to Monday's call from employee pharmacist union APESMA that PSE containing products be 'withdrawn from pharmacies', effectively taking them off the market altogether.

Respondents to the poll, in the main, disagree. The great majority are happy to leave things as they are at present (S3, STOP). 13% thought PSE containg products should go S4.


CNS dumps wholesalers on Esipram : 20/12/2007 :

CNS Pharma have been unable to agree with the three major wholesalers on terms of supply of their product Esipram.

After an internal company analysis, CNS requested that wholesalers accept 14 day payment terms as opposed to the usual 30 day account. The wholesalers have declined to accept these new terms of trade and, as a result, CNS has entered into an arrangement with DHL Exel that will see DHL assume responsibility for the supply of Esipram to pharmacies effective Friday December 21.

CNS claims that the wholesalers' refusal to accept their new terms of trade and stock Esipram places them in breach of their Community Service Obligation (CSO) which requires guaranteed supply to pharmacy of PBS listed medicines.

Click the More... link to read the CNS advice to pharmacies.

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The top PBS drugs - one in five Australians on a statin? : 19/12/2007 :

The Drug Utilisation Sub-Committee of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee recently published figures on the most prescribed PBS drugs for 2006/07. The top 2 drugs by prescription number were statins (atorvastatin and simvastatin) and the following two were PPIs (omeprazole and esomeprazole). Coming in at number 5 was paracetamol.

A closer look at the numbers reveals the surprising (to AusPharm) fact that one in five Australians takes a statin at a total cost to tax payers of about a *billion* dollars or, looking at it another way, that's $50 a head for each and every one of Australia's 20 million population! For more information have a look at this month's Australian Prescriber.

APESMA calls for PSE withdrawal : 18/12/2007 :

The Pharmacists' Division of the Association of Professional Engineers, Scientists and Managers Australia (APESMA) has, again, called for the immediate withdrawal of products containing pseudoephedrine from pharmacies. According to APESMA their call follows an increase in the number of PSE related pharmacy break ins.

APESMA President, Geoff March, said "Our position is that the risks outweigh the benefits and as there are other preparations that provide symptomatic relief, it's time to remove this easily converted drug from the market. We do not advocate this point lightly - we understand there is good profit obtained from such preparations, and support the profitability of pharmacies so that better wages and conditions can flow to our members. However, there come a time to say that the risk outweighs benefits both for us as pharmacists and the general public."

The Pharmacy Guild opposes the move. According to Guild President Kos Sclavos "It is impractical to withdraw the products. It's a not something that some people can do without especially for those who suffer from bad hay fever and sinusitis. The alternative is to make it prescription only which would add to the health costs or banning which would inconvenience hundreds of thousands of Australians."

This issue is well covered in the mainstream media. Click here to access links to these stories and you can read the full APESMA media statement here.

What do 'listers think about all this? Should PSE be taken off the market altogether? Made S4? No change? Please let us know what you think by voting in this week's poll below.

NPS issues new fact sheet on Osteonecrosis of the Jaw : 17/12/2007 :

Last Friday the National Prescribing Service Limited (NPS) published a fact sheet to inform health professionals about a rare but possible side effect of bisphosphonates – Osteonecrosis of the Jaw (ONJ), which is the breakdown of bone in the jaw.

Presumably, this was in response to the media atention paid to ONJ last week.


NPS advises that there is no need for people to stop taking their osteoporosis medicines as this is a rare adverse effect.

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Dr Geraldine Moses on Osteonecrosis of the Jaw : 17/12/2007 :

'Listers may recall that AusPharm published a 'Heard it on the Helpline' in Novermber 2006 on ONJ.

To revisit this article (reviewed for currency by Dr Moses) click the link. Heard it on the Helpline: Bisphosphonate associated osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ) - what's a pharmacist supposed to say or do?

90 Pharmacies Needed For Guild Diabetes Pilot Program : 17/12/2007 :

Recruitment for of the first stage of the Diabetes Pilot Program has begun with 90 pharmacies to be selected from NSW, Victoria, Tasmania and WA to undertake the Diabetes Medication Assistance Service (DMAS).

The DMAS involves an ongoing cycle of assessment, management and review for patients with type 2 diabetes, helping them with self-management and maximising health benefits from their medications.

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AusPharm would like to give you a Christmas present : 15/12/2007 :

As a Christmas special AusPharm will be giving away one of our AusPharm pens to all members who upgrade to 'premium' level during December.

To upgrade now (or commence a free trial) click here and follow the prompts.


New safety information about glitazones in NPS RADAR : 14/12/2007 :

The National Prescribing Service Limited (NPS) has urged all health professionals with patients using pioglitazone and rosiglitazone to ensure they are familiar with the latest version of the product information which contains new information about adverse effects.

Emerging data on cardiovascular risk, fractures and macular oedema are discussed in updated NPS RADAR reviews of pioglitazone (Actos), rosiglitazone (Avandia) and rosiglitazone with metformin (Avandament) published on this month. These drugs are used to treat type 2 diabetes mellitus.

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Embrace me' poll results : 14/12/2007 :

This week's AusPharm poll asked 'listers what they thought of Sigma's Embrace program. The results are shown at below.

Clearly the bulk of pharmacy owners/ managers aren't attracted to the Embrace offer, with concerns about being locked into an unattractive generic/OTC deal for three years perhaps the key concern. However, the 31% who voted in favour is roughly in line with Sigma's market share prior to the offer and equates to approximately 1,550 pharmacies, just a few more than the number who have apparently signed up.

It would seem Embrace hasn't really changed the pharmacy wholesale landscape.

Poll: Embrace me! : 13/12/2007 :

While the industry feedback on Embrace has been mixed, with Sigma recently announcing that 1,400 pharmacies have enrolled, it clearly has appeal to some in the pharmacy community.

The number of pharmacies signed up has exceeded Sigma expectations, but from a financial perspective the programme has been disappointing with wholesaling margins contracting in the six months to July. Management has attributed this weak outcome to lower than expected compliance with the obligation to source generics and OTCs from Sigma. This outcome suggests many pharmacists have 'embraced' the wholesale discounts but have been slower to switch their business to Arrow/Sigma's generics and OTCs. In order to remedy this shortcoming Sigma has indicated that they will more actively enforce the compliance requirements.

The question is will Embrace remain as popular? Are there better offers out there? Does Embrace offer value or does it commit pharmacists to unattractive generics/OTC deal? Please let us know what you think by voting in this week's AusPharm poll at left.

Flas*ing Santa : 13/12/2007 : went after the my CHEMIST chain yesterday over the cover of a Christmas flyer, saying that it was "well clear of the field in the race for the least appropriate Christmas promotion of 2007".

According to Crikey "The wafer-thin premise for the use of this disturbing visual is a boxed "Warning" that the catalogue "contains obscene prices that may offend" their competitors. Remarkably, the marketing people at My Chemist don't seem to have considered that this promotion might also offend consumers, especially given that pharmacy is such a family-focused business."

Click the More..... link to see a larger version of the offending image.

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Media reports on Bisphosphonates : 12/12/2007 :

'Listers may have seen Tuesday night's ABC 7.30 Report on bisphosphonates and the incidence of associated "dead jaw" or osteonecrosis.

According to the Pharmacy Guild recent media stories are unfairly giving the perception that this is a newly discovered side effect.

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