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Rollo Manning
A Regular Column Reporting the News Behind the News

Issue 73: July 2008
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Pharma-goss - With Rollo Manning

 * National Primary Health Care Partnership

 * Non compliance - truth or myth

 * Methadone too costly for addicts


National Primary Health Care Partnership
An anxious look at the list of organisations represented on the Australian Division of General Practice led “Partnership” shows the Pharmacy Guild is there together with the Society of Hospital Pharmacists.
Pharmacy is represented.
At last – a seat on a major government team.

Well that is the Guild - also on the Minister’s reference group is the Guild’s Tasmanian Vice President and National Councilor Judy Liauw.
Ms. Liauw is described as a “health expert” in the announcement of the membership by Minister Roxon.

Interestingly the Pharmaceutical Society, in its media release praising the Minister for establishing the reference group makes no mention of the pharmacy representation.

At a time when conflict of interest is at the forefront of advisory committees, council, boards or whatever and where usually one of the first items of business is to ask members to declare any conflict of interest, it is hard to see how a Guild person could survive. Surely deliberations will centre on the mix of private and public health arrangements and funding and Guild members have a vested interest in ensuring their income is protected.

Chairperson of the partnership is Kate Carnell, former Guild National Vice President.
For a full list of the organisations represented go to


It is strange to see the Guild name there amongst all the professional associations of other health professionals.

This demonstrates clearly the dominant position the Pharmacy Guild, representing 4,000 owners of pharmacy businesses, has on the National scene. The professional body, the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia, says in its media release:

"The Society hopes the members of the External Reference Group developing the Primary Health Care Strategy can look beyond the current interests and assumptions that have hindered the development of a truly seamless approach to integrating all health professions in the provision of primary care." 

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia is the organisation that represents the professional interests of Australia’s 18,000 pharmacists. It provides standards of practice, education, training and practice support for pharmacists and helps members of the profession to deliver the best health care to their patients.”
Emphasis added - RM

The Guild in its media release emphasizes the important role its representative has on the reference group:

“Judy Liauw’s appointment to this Reference Group acknowledges the vital role community pharmacy will play in achieving the objectives of the National Primary Health Care Strategy. Community pharmacy is an important contributor within the primary health care team, especially in terms of helping doctors and their patients to manage chronic conditions and in supporting prevention initiatives,” Guild National President, Kos Sclavos, said.

Interesting time?

Non compliance – truth or myth

There needs to be rational look at the question of medication compliance. Is it good or bad?

A simple question with an apparently complex and conflicting answer.

On the one hand there is the Pharmacy Guild that says:

“Community pharmacy is an important contributor within the primary health care team, especially in terms of helping doctors and their patients to manage chronic conditions and in supporting prevention initiatives," Guild National President, Kos Sclavos, said. (Media release – Guild – June 2008)

While on the other hand:
“This (poor compliance) is why over half a million Australians end up in hospital unnecessarily every year, according to research conducted by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Most of these admissions could have been prevented through better management of chronic disease in the community.” According to the Centre for Policy Development.

What is it – good or bad?

Methadone too costly for addicts

It seems as though heroin can be afforded when a person is an addict but as soon as they decide to forgo the addiction a mere dose of methadone syrup every day is too expensive.

In the medias last month was the report that according to a survey in Victoria by the RMIT the cost of methadone programs is driving some recovering heroin addicts to turn to sex work and crime, skip meals, or abandon treatment and relapse into heroin use.

While the Federal Government covers the cost of pharmacotherapy programs including methadone and buprenorphine, people using the program have to cover the dispensing fees charged by pharmacists, which average $60 a fortnight or about $1500 a year.

The report by RMIT's Centre for Applied Social Research and the Salvation Army says many of those on the program are suffering extreme hardship and rely on Centrelink payments to survive. Once they pay for rent, food and other necessities, they struggle to pay the dispensing fee.

About 11,000 people in Victoria are on pharmacotherapy programs. Of the 120 interviewed in the report, three-quarters cited welfare as their main source of income. The most common reason for failing to turn up for their pharmacotherapy dosage was an inability to pay dispensing fees.

Should the dispensing fee be part of the treatment program?

Have your say – email the Editor  at http://archive.i2p.com.au/?page=site/contact


That’s all for now folks….

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


For more of Rollo’s writings on remote living Aboriginals in the north of Australia go to


Visit my website at


For a more complete array of recent speeches, presentations and articles.


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