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Australian Self Medication Industry Press Releases

Bob Bowden
Media Contact for the Australian Self Medication Industry

Issue 79: February 2009
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 provides reassurance on antiseptic mouthwashes

ASMI response to the Centre for Independent Studies (CIS) Report: The Political Economy of Community Pharmacy in Australia

  * ASMI applauds steps to fill the knowledge gap for complementary medicines

ASMI provides reassurance on antiseptic mouthwashes

 The Australian Self-Medication Industry (ASMI) today reassured consumers about the safety of antiseptic mouthwashes.

A review article published in the current issue of the Australian Dental Journal explores a speculated link between antiseptic mouthwashes that contain alcohol and an increased risk of oral cancer.1 However, the paper does not reflect the full body of scientific evidence and adds no new scientific data regarding antiseptic mouthwashes.

In a letter to the editors of the journal, Professor Laurence Walsh, Head of the School of Dentistry at the University of Queensland criticises the paper for drawing on a “small and selective group of studies” and points out there is no established, causal relationship between oral cancer and mouthwashes.

According to Professor Walsh, a careful reading of the entire literature on the topic does not suggest that the use of antiseptic mouthwashes containing alcohol increases the risk of oral cancer.

“A wide range of critical and systematic reviews over many years have failed to show any statistically significant association between mouthwash use and oral cancer. There is certainly nothing in the current paper to change our thinking in that regard,” said Professor Walsh.

According to Professor Walsh, mouthwashes continue to play an important role in improving dental hygiene.“Antiseptic mouthwashes play an important role in helping to reduce gum inflammation and plaque. Most antiseptic mouthwashes contain alcohol and there is no doubt they are effective and safe when used appropriately,” said Professor Walsh

1. McCullough  and Farah Australian Dental J. November 2008 .

ASMI response to the CIS Report:
The Political Economy of Community Pharmacy in Australia

A spokesperson for ASMI said: ASMI strongly supports the role that community pharmacy plays in providing advice, support and treatments to millions of people around Australia.

The provision of OTC medicines through pharmacy enables consumers to receive a level of counseling and support that is appropriate to the individual.

Pharmacists already play a valuable role in helping patients to understand and manage conditions and they are central to the wider role for self-care that is envisaged for Australia’s health system.

Criticism of the role of community pharmacy in the OTC sector overlooks the important part that pharmacy plays in assisting the switch of medicines from S4 (prescription-only) to S3 (pharmacist only) status.

Pharmacists have a pivotal role in advising on medicines that transition from prescription-only to OTC and thus facilitate wider access to appropriate and cost-effective treatments for consumers.

It is worth bearing in mind the typical life cycle in the transition from prescription to OTC status that enables medicines to become available in pharmacies, and often, safely extended to grocery outlets such as in the case of ibuprofen and nicotine replacement therapy.

ASMI applauds steps to fill the knowledge gap for complementary medicines

The Australian Self-Medication Industry (ASMI) has welcomed the findings of a study by the National Prescribing Service (NPS) into complementary medicines as an essential step in identifying the information needs of consumers and healthcare professionals.

Ruth Kendon, ASMI Regulatory & Technical Manager for Complementary Medicines said the findings should be viewed as a critical pathway in developing a plan to broaden information sources on complementary medicines.

The NPS study finds that pharmacists and GPs want a central, fast, online resource to help them find reliable information on complementary medicines.

Ms Kendon said that contraindications, interactions with drugs, and adverse reactions are some of the most important details needed when giving advice to consumers.

“The task now is to identify and promote reliable sources of information about complementary medicines.

“There is also a need for more investment in research to build the evidence base for these products. The Rudd Government has already provided much needed funding to help provide clinical evidence on complementary medicines to assist health professionals and consumers”.

The principle of self-care is fundamental to the future of Australia’s health system and complementary medicines play a key part in that process. Central to the idea of self care is an educated consumer, able to access reliable healthcare information and able to make appropriate and informed healthcare choices.

Quality Use of Medicines is a key element in this, as is the availability of high-quality, independent information for both consumers and retailers.

For the consumer who prefers complementary medicines as the first line of treatment, the expert in complementary medicines, the qualified naturopath or herbalist, is the obvious choice.

For the pharmacist or GP who will prescribe complementary medicines, co-operation with a reputable herbalist or naturopath can be of real assistance.

The NPS survey found that consumers rely mainly on family members and on the internet for their information.

“While it is quite understandable that family members might be seen as reliable, the internet is a different story,” Ms Kendon said.

“In cyber-space, high-quality scientific data and WHO-standard evidence of traditional use jostle with literally millions of sites touting the latest ‘miracle cures’, and blogs filled with well-meaning but unfounded theories and fads.

“It is hard enough for a qualified professional to find good data amongst all this clutter, let alone an untrained amateur”.

This new wealth of information – both good and flawed - has given rise to the ‘cyberchondriac’ – the person who comes to the health professional armed with sheaves of printouts, a ready-made diagnosis, and a shopping list gleaned from websites.

“The most effective way of tackling this phenomenon is to be armed with clear, reliable and detailed information on the multitude of available complementary medicines at the push of a button,” Ms Kendon said.

ASMI applauds Blackmores on launching its new evidence-based website in helping to fill this knowledge gap. To Blackmores’ credit, the site covers complementary medicines outside its own range, as well as independent material.

There are also a number of other credible websites, including Medline Plus, that provide quality information. The task ahead is to better promote these to consumers and healthcare professionals.


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