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- Issue 72: June 2008

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Rollo Manning
A Regular Column Reporting the News Behind the News

Issue 72: June 2008
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Pharma-goss - With Rollo Manning

 * Wow what a month for Guild v PSA

Play smart to reap rewards

* Beware a deadly condition

* Repeat question… Why Codeine so high?


Wow what a month for Guild v PSA

Text Box:  It was on for young and old this last month on the subject of GP Super Clinics (GPSC) between the Guild and PSA moderated by the participants on the Auspharm List daily news e-zine.

And what an appropriate subject to be the platform. Where else would be better than a GP Super Clinic to demonstrate the value of a clinical pharmacist?

The interaction between pharmacists and other health professionals is essential if clients of the clinics are to have any chance of experiencing the quality use of medicines.

Central to the discussion is whether their should be an Approved Pharmacy, under the conditions of Section 90 of the National Health Act, operating from within the precinct of the GPSC.

The Department of Health website that describes the GPSC does not place a lot of emphasis on “pharmacy” with the word appearing just once in an 1800 word description of the facilities.


It lists the 31 communities that are being targeted for receiving a super clinic. These are at

http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/paText Box:  cd-gpsuperclinics-location

Now how easy should this be?

Very easy it appears.

There are the locations.

A relocation incentive allowance is available through the program.

A PBS Approved Pharmacy needs to relocate into the GPSC and bingo! – Problem solved.

So why the fuss?

Where is the issue?

How come such a simple subject raised a total of 37 responses within the space of four days on the well known pharmacy bulletin board?

The answer to that question is simple too.

It went to the core of the argument about who should control the pharmacy profession and its future development.

The choices:

  • The retail shop commercially orientated lobby group for OWNERS of pharmacy businesses - the Pharmacy Guild of Australia
  • The professionally orientated lobby group for ALL pharmacists - the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia.

Text Box:  Under normal circumstance it could be assumed that the Guild would be in there lobbying with the Department of Health to make sure the relocation allowance would be available to any pharmacy business owner to move their shop into the premises. In addition it would be lobbying the likely owners at a local level to take this as the best option for having access to pharmacy services.

The PSA on the other hand would be in their at the planning stages to make sure the role of a pharmacist on the clinical side was recognised as an essential component of the establishment. This is particularly necessary with the management of chronic diseases as one of the central foci of the GPSC concept.

So why the fuss?

The argument over the GPSC has been used by the advocates of the PSA to raise their flags and wave them for the masses of pharmacists who want to see the profession brought back to a primary health care role. This in contrast to the fewer in number owners of businesses who of course want to gain whatever advantage they may have to increase their return on investment.


But why should these two be so poles apart?

Text Box:  Quite frankly, they shouldn’t.

The two should be working in harmony recognizing each others strengths and putting forward a concerted and concentrated voice to the people and government of Australia.

The fact that this does not happen is because one is sitting on a big bucket of money and the other is not.

The Guild, in acting as Manager of the $0.5 billion – yes $500 million – Fourth Community Pharmacy Agreement (4CPA) pot of gold – is able to employ spin doctors as needed to embrace government officials and advisers to follow their lead in directing the way pharmacists are portrayed. It is easy to talk about what is happening out their at the coalface but a different story when one gets out and finds out if indeed it is happening.

And that is the nitty gritty of it all.

The Guild is saying that it is out their happening – that there is a professional face to the pharmacy services established under Section 90 approvals BUT the pharmacists that are out their actually practicing know damn well that it is not.

Text Box:  This is why the conflict arises.

You have on the one hand the owners maximizing profit and the employee pharmacists (on the other) being told to dispense as if in a sausage factory. They are not encouraged to embark on the more professionally rewarding clinical reviews, counseling, and liaison with other health professionals’ type of activities that abound outside the four walls of the pharmacy business. The retail shop model has dominated the development of the pharmacy profession for the past 20 years posing under the guise of a “community” pharmacy as if the community has some ownership stake in it.

So what can be done?

Firstly their needs to be a high level talk with government to present the profession as a united and honest front.

Text Box:  This will only come about when there is a strong and committed PSA. So long as PSA Councilors also have a vested interest in a retail pharmacy business it is not likely to happen. The uprising has to come from the voices in the field and there are plenty of them.

Those younger pharmacists with the wealth of knowledge to undertake the professional role with distinction need to get organized to be a spokesperson for the masses at the PSA National level and force the Guild to recognise them.

There needs to be a link person in every State/Territory and region to feed information down the line to those out there wanting to see a difference and able to prove that there are in fact more of them (circa 10,000) compared to the business owners (circa 4,000) when it comes to voices, votes and ability to change.

Who is going to fund the movement?

There are a number of options and among them are:

  • The pharmacists themselves from a voluntary levy. $100 from 10,000 = $1 million and this author would like to do a budget for that amount of money!
  • Invite the Guild to promote a submission from the 4CPA pot of gold to establish a balance viewed sector of the profession that would liaise with it on professional matters and be an equal player.
  • Ask the Department of Health to fund it on the basis that it already funds other health professional bodies for doctors, nurses and allied professions.
  • Invite the pharmaceutical industry to provide funds and in return provide it with an avenue to provide continuing education programs on its new products.

As for who will do the work – it would be advisable to look at those people who have put forward strong views on the bulletin board on the basis that such postings are not done in jest and are usually there because a person feels strongly about a subject and is prepared to devote the time that is needed to put forward alternative views. These same people may also be prepared to be the State/Territory coordinators of the alternative movement or PSA affiliate.

Text Box:

What is it called?

Well the sky is the limit and suggestions should abound.

The Auspharm list is a good medium for this sort of discussion and it is a pity that it is so influenced by the Pharmacy Guild in its editorial policy. The owner always has the last say! It is obvious from Auspharmlist that there is a market out there for a daily bulletin board and such a thing without editorial shackles would be worth developing.

Text Box:

i2P could be such a medium but it is entirely voluntary for everyone involved.


Maybe we should be asking Andrew Forrest if he has a son or daughter likely to be a pharmacist. Australia’s richest man would be an ideal option. Maybe a browse through the “most rich list” would unearth a benefactor.

Any pharmacists in the top 200 rich list of BRW?


Play smart to reap rewardsText Box:

The announcement that weight watchers are to target chain stores for new markets makes one wonder what went wrong. The move of Terry White Chemist to have the program of Tony Ferguson seemed like a smart move and obviously paid dividends. If pharmacy is going to make a mark in the marketplace it may as well do it well and there would be no market to be got through the chain stores. Dream on…why not?


Beware a deadly condition

It must be said that a wry smile could come over the face of this columnist when I read the headline of a recent mailing from the National Prescribing Service. It read:

Text Box:


Chronic Heart failure – sounds like “death” to me…Rollo

Text Box:  Repeat question…


Still no response to the question of why Nurofen Plus has such a high level of Codeine.

Any takers?

No wonder it is so popular with 12.8mgm of Codeine in each tablet.

Paracetamol/Codeine content has been 500mgm- 8mgm – or is this column missing something!

Come on, someone…it is not that hard a question, surely!

That’s all for now folks….

Comments please on any subjects in this column or suggestions for topics that “Pharma-goss” could address


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