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PSA Press Releases

Peter Waterman
The Latest from the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia

Issue 82: May 2009
Page: 1 of 1 Author's Profile | Send to a Friend | Printer Version

PSA News - the latest from the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia. Keep in touch with activities of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia and their professional support for Australian pharmacists.
This Month:









The release by the National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission of its report focussing on e-health and the introduction of a ‘person-controlled electronic health record’ has been welcomed by the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia.

The report recommends that by 2012 every Australian should have a personal electronic health record which that person will own and have full control over.

The Acting President of the PSA, Dr Shane Jackson, said the NHHRC report addressed concerns expressed about the National E-Health Strategy which proposed a 10-year time frame for the adoption of electronic health initiatives.

“The PSA has long maintained that the 10-year proposal as outlined in the E-Health Strategy was unrealistic and did not meet the best interests of the Australian public,” Dr Jackson said.

“It is refreshing to see the NHHRC moving to speed up the process of introducing electronic health records which PSA believes are an important step in the improving the ongoing health-care needs of all Australians.

“PSA welcomes the accelerated timetable proposed by the NHHRC. PSA supports the widespread and comprehensive use of electronic health records for recording the supply of medications and also supports the recommendation that all healthcare providers have an obligation to 'transmit’ key data, such as dispensed medications. Whilst we support that all healthcare providers transmit key data, it must be acknowledged that government needs to fund the infrastructure changes that need to be made for this to occur.”

The proposal would improve pharmacists’ ability to assist in the continuity of care for patients especially when transitioning between the hospital and community and vice-versa.

“Also, by pharmacists having access to the relevant diagnostic and pathology information, it places us in a much better position to detect and resolve any medication-related problems. The access to this diagnostic and pathology information will also greatly facilitate any future prescribing role for pharmacists and the ability of pharmacists to increase their role in Australia’s health-care system,” Dr Jackson said.

Dr Jackson said the report did not appear to propose that it be compulsory for patients to maintain an electronic health record.

“PSA, however, supports the introduction of processes that foster greater participation in any such system. We would urge an approach that encouraged opting out of the system, rather than opting in.”

Dr Jackson said the Government also needs to develop a strategy to inform consumers and health professionals about the significant benefits and safeguards of the proposed NHHRC approach.

“Such an awareness-raising strategy is an important step in ensuring the acceptance and efficacy of the new records system, which will be an essential pre-requisite to its success,” Dr Jackson said.



Proposals by the National Drugs and Poisons Schedule Committee to subject the sale of all products containing codeine to pack size restrictions and S3 rescheduling are premature, the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia said today.

President of the PSA, Warwick Plunkett, said while the Society fully supported moves to stop the illicit use of codeine-based products, the NDPSC proposals would greatly disadvantage the vast majority of codeine users who used the products for legitimate therapeutic purposes.

“The proposals by the NDPSC also do not seem to be evidence based but rather rely on anecdotal material to support moves for the package restrictions and the rescheduling,” Mr Plunkett said.

“There does not seem to be supporting evidence of just what proportion of illicit use there is to legitimate use to justify these strong measures.”

Mr Plunkett said that alerting the public and the pharmacy profession to the problem, and introducing educational campaigns, would be a better course of action than the proposed measures.

“The NDPSC has not entered into any public campaign over the illicit use of codeine and the Society believes such a campaign is a natural and logical first step in combating any problems which may exist,” Mr Plunkett said.

“Pharmacy has the mechanisms in place to facilitate such a campaign and these include the resources of PSA’s Pharmacy Self Care program which can help to get the message out to both consumers and the pharmacy profession

“Pharmacy also has in place other tools to combat any illicit use which may be identified.

“An extension of Project Stop, the highly successful resource which has dramatically cut the illicit diversion of pseudoephedrine-based products to illegal drugs’ manufacture, could be extended to combat abuse of codeine products.”

Mr Plunkett urged the NDPSC to provide evidence behind its proposals and to immediately develop an educational campaign.

“To penalise most Australians for the activities of a few is an unnecessary over-reaction. There are better ways to address the issue,” Mr Plunkett said.



Arthritis affects nearly 20 per cent of all Australians and by 2050 it is estimated that there will be a staggering 7 million Australians suffering from this debilitating and often very painful condition.

These figures were highlighted today with the announcement that Pharmacy Self Care, in partnership with Arthritis Australia and the Australian Rheumatology Association, has launched a targeted Arthritis Health Campaign following Arthritis Awareness Week which was held over the past five days.

Launching the campaign, the President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia, Warwick Plunkett, said that in addition to the immeasurable social and emotional costs of the condition, arthritis cost the Australian economy about $23.9 billion a year.

“It is therefore very fitting that the PSA’s Pharmacy Self Care program today launches this Arthritis Health Campaign to follow the public awareness week which had the very fitting theme of Arthritis – take the first step.

“Clearly, pharmacists and their support staff are in the frontline of care for people with arthritis and everything we can do to assist in the treatment of the condition and to help reduce its impact, is a step in the right direction. This campaign is one of those important steps.

“The PSA’s Pharmacy Self Care program, which has been running for 22 years, has the expertise and experience to ensure this specialised campaign is targeted and effective.

“This is clear from the wide range of resources and support material it has developed to help Pharmacy Self Care pharmacists and their support staff to implement the campaign.”

The Arthritis Health Campaign resources include:

* The monthly edition of inPHARMation
* education storyboard
* consumer Fact Card deskpad
* 2 x health promotion posters
* evaluation questionnaire

“I urge Pharmacy Self Care pharmacists to make full use of the excellent resources provided to help make a real impact on the health of the Australian public with the Arthritis Health Campaign,” Mr Plunkett said.



The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia and the National Australian Pharmacy Students' Association have signed a significant Memorandum of Understanding to cement the ongoing relationship between the two organisations.

The signing took place at a ceremony held during the Australian Pharmacy Professional conference on the Gold Coast at the weekend.

President of the PSA, Warwick Plunkett, said the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding further strengthened the underlying working relationship between the Society and NAPSA.

“This MoU is designed to ensure that the relationship between the Society and the Association continues to grow and continues to serve the best interests of students and PSA members alike,” Mr Plunkett said.

“It also ensures that pharmacy students are well supported and that their interests are well represented at the national level.

“The MoU additionally provides the basis for ongoing support in the pharmacy profession after the students graduate from university.”

Mr Plunkett said the main objectives of the MoU included helping NAPSA in the organisation and conduct of successful NAPSA conferences and events, and helping the NAPSA Executive in implementing the smooth and efficient administration of the organisation.

“Further, the MoU will assist NAPSA and its members to access PSA products and services, and will specifically offer NAPSA members professional development opportunities through the PSA,” Mr Plunkett said.

“This is a significant development in planning ahead for the future of pharmacy in this country and in making the best possible opportunities available to pharmacists from their days as students through to their early career and ongoing development as pharmacists.”



The announcement that an extra 64 clinical pharmacists will be employed in NSW hospitals has been welcomed by the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia.

President of the NSW Branch of the PSA, Peter Gissing, said the decision by NSW Health Minister, John Della Bosca, to appoint extra hospital pharmacists was timely and recognised the pivotal role that pharmacists play in all aspects of patient health care in Australia.

“The PSA has been advocating for some time for an increase in the number of hospital pharmacists, particularly in light of some of the problems which have surfaced in the NSW hospital system,” Mr Gissing said.

“We have made submissions in person and in writing to the Government and inquiring bodies and the speedy response by Mr Della Bosca to these submissions is a very clear indication of the value he places on pharmacists in the hospital system.”

Mr Gissing said the role of hospital pharmacists went well beyond that of dispensing medications.

“The quality use of medicines is a critical aspect of ongoing health care in this country and hospital pharmacists are at the frontline in being able to help educate patients about the correct use of their medications,” Mr Gissing said.

“In addition, they can provide advice to other medical professionals in the hospital system with the result that patient stays may be reduced.

“It is also gratifying to see that the opportunity for community pharmacy involvement in delivering public health services will also be actively considered by the NSW Government.

“The PSA looks forward to continuing to work with the Minister, NSW Government and NSW Health in finding the best way forward with this and other recommendations from the Garling Report.”

The National President of the PSA, Warwick Plunkett, said the Garling Report pointed to medicine misadventures being the cause of about 140,000 hospital admissions a year, with an annual cost to the public in the order of $380 million.

“Educating consumers is the key to reducing this huge burden on the hospital and financial systems of Australia and pharmacists have the expertise and accessibility to lead in this critical education campaign,” Mr Plunkett said.

“The additional NSW hospital pharmacists will go some way towards addressing the concerns of the PSA and the issues raised in the Garling Report, and the PSA urges all other States and Territories to follow the lead set by Mr Della Bosca.”



MEDIA CONTACT:    Warwick Plunkett        0412 304 450

                                    Peter Gissing             0419 358 063

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