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Australian Self Medication Industry Press Releases

Bob Bowden
Media Contact for the Australian Self Medication Industry

Issue 78: December 2008
Page: 1 of 1 Author's Profile | Send to a Friend | Printer Version

For over 30 years, the Australian Self-Medication Industry has represented companies involved in the manufacture and distribution of non-prescription consumer healthcare products and related firms.
ASMI is the peak industry body for the Australian self-care industry including consumer healthcare products ranging from over-the-counter medicines (OTC) to complementary medicines
Also represented by ASMI are companies providing manufacturers with services, such as advertising, public relations, regulatory consultancy, legal advice and industry statistics.

Topics for this month:

 * ASMI appoints new senior manager to oversee complementary medicines 

Higher Medicare levy likely unless self-care increases

  * 'Coughs and colds' placing heavy burden on doctors and costing millions of dollars to national health budget

ASMI marketing awards honour excellence and innovation in healthcare sector

  * ASMI welcomes Valeant Pharmaceuticals as a new member organisation



ASMI appoints new senior manager to oversee complementary medicines

The Australian Self-Medication Industry (ASMI) today announced the appointment of Ms Ruth Kendon as the new Regulatory & Technical Manager for Complementary Medicines.

Ms Kendon is a practising naturopath and herbalist based in Sydney. She has degrees in Naturopathy and Botanical Medicine and has spent 24 years in private practice. She has also taught clinical nutrition and served on the Board of Directors of the National Herbalists’ Association of Australia.

The Executive Director of ASMI, Juliet Seifert said: I congratulate Ruth on her appointment and am delighted that we have been to attract a person of Ruth’s calibre and experience to this very important position.

“Ruth has outstanding credentials in both the theoretical understanding as well as the day-to-day practical application of complementary and alternative medicines.

“She also brings an extraordinary level of professionalism and accomplishment to the regulatory issues associated with complementary medicines.

“She has worked closely with manufacturers, practitioners, patients, sponsors and advertisers, and has had a close association with the regulatory authorities through her extensive consultations and submissions to the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).

“With the complementary sector facing calls from some quarters for increased regulation, the appointment of such a well credentialed executive will assist ASMI members in having their voices heard,” Ms Seifert said.

The Federal Government’s focus on preventative health, and on self care as outlined in the recent discussion paper on Primary Health, point to an increasing reliance by many people on a range of over-the-counter (OTC) medicines including complementary medicines.

“Many Australians choose complementary medicines as a means of both treating illness and maintaining good health or as part of an integrated strategy of preventative health,” Ms Seifert said.

“Particularly for those with minor ailments or chronic conditions, complementary medicines provide a critical means of treating ailments, and millions of Australians use them regularly”.

Ms Kendon will assist ASMI to represent its members’ interests across a range of forums and will provide assistance in the listing of complementary medicines, presenting ASMI’s position in submissions to government and preparing materials to support product efficacy, safety and therapeutic claims before the TGA and other bodies.

Higher Medicare levy likely unless self-care increases

Nearly 70% of adult Australians lack information to make better health decisions, and unless Medicare and health insurance are restructured to support patients, healthcare expenditures will rise beyond today's average 4.7% share of household budgets, health insurance dropouts will accelerate and the Medicare levy must jump, a Sydney conference will hear tomorrow.

Dr Paul Gross, Director of the Institute of Health Economics and Technology Assessment, will tell the Australian Self Medication Industry conference in Sydney, Wednesday November 19, that remedying the known gaps in education, information and communication can help ease the economic burden falling on households.

"Many recent expert reports have told us that patients are bewildered by the complexity of the referral systems, are avoiding care because of rising charges and that higher uninsurable payments are cutting into household budgets", he says.

"Last week, yet another international organisation ranked Australia the second worst of eight nations on the completeness of information given to patients on discharge from hospitals".

Dr Gross will tell the conference that politicians have yet to respond to five realities.

 * The shortage of GPs is worsening.

 * Some 80% of pharmacists are already involved in non-prescription advice

 * Minor ailments that now consume GP time might respond to new types of informed self-care supported by GPs, pharmacists and practice nurses

 * Some forms of self-medication have been shown to be as cost-effective as common treatments, e.g. vitamin D supplements to prevent osteoporosis in populations lacking access to sunlight

 * The availability of new technology through the Internet and the telephone means that we can now offer self-management support for many chronic conditions that now overloading the emergency rooms of hospitals

"These developments confirm that Medicare can be re-designed to support new types of first-contact care and prevention of hospital admissions, with a better informed consumer the major focus of any reform", he says.

"Recent behavioural studies have shown that households that believe that families should have responsibility for their own health have expenditures that are a third of households that do not have such a belief."

"The message to Treasuries is that budgets supporting particular types of self-care are an investment in better health, leading to lower growth rates in Medicare and health insurer outlays."

He believes that Australia now needs a national self-care alliance to promote the proven tools of self-care.

The ASMI national conference will take place on Wednesday 19 November at Australian Technology Park Redfern commencing 11.30 am.

Media contact, Bob Bowden 0412 753 298

Conference website: www.asmi.com.au/events/default.aspx

For interviews: Paul Gross office: 02-99606233; mobile: 0414628243;

email: paul@iheta.com

‘Coughs and colds’ placing heavy burden on doctors and costing millions of dollars to national health budget

Study reveals 25 million GP consultations per year involve minor ailments

New research into the impact of minor ailments on GP workload has revealed that significant health resources are being devoted to coughs, colds and other conditions that could be effectively managed by a pharmacist, practice nurse or through responsible self care.

The study commissioned by the Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI) and conducted by international health industry consultants, IMS, reveals that 15% of all GP consultations involve the treatment of minor ailments, and 7% involve the treatment of minor ailments alone.

When projected nationally the study indicates a total of 25 million GP consultations annually, or approximately 96,000 consultations per day involve the treatment of a minor ailment. Also, approximately 59% of minor ailments resulted in a prescription, suggesting almost 15 million prescriptions being provided for minor ailments.

The research was released today in Sydney at the ASMI conference, Integrating Self Care into the Healthcare System.

The Executive Director of ASMI, Juliet Seifert said the findings shed new light on some of the factors behind the heavy workload faced by GPs and in turn, the best use of Australia’s health resources.

“It raises the question as to whether a 21st Century health system should see doctors being tied up treating minor ailments such as coughs and colds.

“There is a real need to examine alternatives to costly GP consultations for minor ailments and other conditions that can be more effectively managed once diagnosed.

“In order to efficiently deliver the best health outcomes, the focus of healthcare should be on encouraging a shift in behaviour from GP to self care and pharmacy as the first point of call for minor ailments.

“This would allow doctors to apply their extensive knowledge and training to best use in treating more serious conditions as well as to longer term preventative health”.

The most common minor ailments identified in the study were acute upper respiratory tract infection, back pain, diarrohea and gastroenteritis, joint pain, coughs, viral infection, malaise and fatigue, headache and constipation.

Many minor ailments are suited to responsible self care, consultation with a pharmacist or treatment by a nurse practitioner, as are some routine procedures such as refilling of prescriptions.

“At a time when we face acute shortages of GPs around Australia, it is not good use of national health resources to have GPs burdened with tasks that could be effectively and safely managed in other ways,” Ms Seifert said.

The Federal Government’s recent discussion paper on Primary Health Care noted the problems in health care delivery - including large inequalities between urban and rural service delivery - that are a direct result of doctor shortages. In many parts of Australia, doctors have ceased taking on new patients.

“The research suggests that it would be realistic to expect to cut GP workload by 10 per cent. This would release significant GP capacity for more serious conditions and would cut waiting lists,” Ms Seifert said.

“Health budgets simply cannot sustain current levels of activity unless there is far reaching reform to the way we treat and manage primary health”.

The IMS research was based on the Australian Medical Index (AMI) database containing de-identified GP patient records, encompassing data from more than 182,000 patients, 1,020 doctors from around Australia and almost 280,000 consultations.

It follows a similar IMS study in the UK which found 57 million GP consultations annually costing £2 billion and saw a major government program to encourage self care and greater preventative health.

ASMI marketing awards honour excellence and innovation in healthcare sector


Awards for Australia’s most innovative healthcare products, promotions and self care initiatives were announced at the Australian Self-Medication Industry Conference in Sydney today.

The ASMI awards were presented by the Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Ageing, Senator Jan McLucas and reflect achievement in product innovation in the over-the-counter (OTC) medicines sector.

The judging of the awards takes into account both innovation in development and promotion, as well as the application of Quality Use of Medicines (QUM) principles, which underpin Australia’s National Medicines Policy, and which emphasise the appropriate, safe and effective use of medications including all forms of information and labeling.

The Executive Director of ASMI, Juliet Seifert, said the winners had demonstrated not only excellence in promotion but also a thorough application of QUM principles with an accompanying consumer-focus.

“These companies can be proud of their achievement in a highly competitive market,” Ms Seifert said.

All the awards were judged by a panel made up of experts including a pharmacist and a representative from leading consumer organisation, Choice.

Awards were made in five categories:


* Best new introduction of a consumer healthcare product

* Best promotion of an existing consumer healthcare product
* Best self care program

Best sales force initiative – grocery and/or pharmacy

* Pharmacy Pulse ‘Excellence in Service & Sales Initiative’ - Gold, Silver and Bronze


Best new introduction of a consumer healthcare product

Winner: Bayer Australia’s male fertility treatment, Menevit

The judging panel noted that the product had been developed in Australia and is now being planned for global markets. 

The product responded to a growing recognition that the quality of male sperm was a significant factor in a couple’s fertility. Promotion of the product was creative, featuring a swimmer and the catchline: “If a sperm were human, it would need enough stamina to cross the Atlantic.”

Best promotion of an existing consumer healthcare product

 Winner: GlaxoSmithKline’s low dose aspirin, Cartia

Cartia is a low dose aspirin that helps prevent blood clotting and reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke in patients with blood vessel disorders.

The judging panel noted that the campaign raised the awareness of an old brand in a long established category. It was extremely effective, with growth fuelled by GP and pharmacist recommendations.

Best Self Care program

 Winner: Bayer Australia’s Canesten online thrush test

Canesten provides a range of specially tailored products for the treatment of thrush and other skin fungal infections such as tinea, ringworm, nappy rash, and jock itch.

The winner created an innovative online tool which allows consumers to decide on the appropriate treatment for a condition that they might not feel comfortable discussing in a pharmacy setting.

Best Sales Force Initiative – Grocery and/or Pharmacy

 * Winner: Reckitt Benckiser’s ‘Eight Step Call Process’

The award was introduced to reflect ‘best in class’ initiative by a sales team and the winner has introduced such a program which ensures that every member of its sales team complies with a rigorous process on every call to a pharmacist.

  * Pharmacy Pulse Excellence in Service & Sales Initiatives

The awards are based on research by Pharmacy Pulse that reflect collective feedback provided by Australian pharmacies.  The awards recognise ASMI members who have achieved excellence in their service and sales initiatives.

Gold winner - EGO Pharmaceuticals

Silver winner - Wyeth Consumer

Bronze winner - GSK consumer


ASMI welcomes Valeant Pharmaceuticals as a new member organisation

The Australian Self-Medication Industry (ASMI), the industry body representing non-prescription consumer healthcare products today announced a new member, Valeant Pharmaceuticals International.

Valeant is a multinational specialty pharmaceutical company that develops, manufactures and markets a broad range of pharmaceutical products primarily in the areas of neurology and dermatology.

Valeant’s Nyal range is one of Australia’s oldest and best known cough and cold brands. Valeant recently announced the acquisition of DermaTech, which expands its OTC range to include DermaVeen and DermaDrate. Valeant is growing as an Australian specialty pharmaceutical company focused on dermatology products.

The Executive Director of ASMI, Juliet Seifert said: “I am delighted to welcome Valeant as a member of ASMI. Valeant is a highly respected name in the healthcare sector with a long association in the Australian market.

“Valeant’s expanding presence in Australia means that we will be able to work together to represent its interests across a range of forums.

“I am extremely pleased that Valeant have seen the benefits in joining with a strong industry association that can help achieve outcomes across the many areas in which we represent members’ interests,” Ms Seifert said.

ASMI represents a range of organisations in the consumer healthcare sector including over-the-counter (OTC) and complementary medicines.

“There is an increasing recognition that across the OTC and complementary medicines sector, the challenges we face, as an industry, are common and that the best prospect for success is to have a united voice in regulatory and other forums,” Ms Seifert said.

Valeant Pharmaceuticals Managing Director, Stewart Fairbairn said the organisation was pleased to be formally associated with an industry leading organisation such as ASMI.

“As a major player in the cold and flu market with our Nyal brand we are keen to join forces with other manufacturers to support ASMI in its ongoing discussions with the TGA on various issues.”

“ASMI has kept us abreast of some of the work that they are doing – especially in the self care and self-medication area. We recognise the benefits of this for the consumer healthcare industry and for consumers and this is something that we want to be a part of.

“ASMI has included our company in a number of key projects recently and this has made us value what the association has to offer,” Mr Fairbairn said.


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