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Issue 34: February 2005

 

EDITORIAL




WE LIVE IN INTERESTING TIMES


This is a new section of i2P aiming to keep readers informed of global news that may affect pharmacy. Readers are encouraged to share links to items of interes,t by simply e-mailing the story link to the editor located at neilj@computachem.com.au Topics can range from drug-related news, Information Technology, medical communications, medical research breakthroughs, management and marketing issues. Response to any item is also encouraged through the "Letters" column.

Future Snapshot


The New Year is supposed to be a time for resolutions, and a new beginning. I have often speculated on what the profession of pharmacy could be could be and should be. 2005 so far, does not have a good feel about it, with the AMA bickering about demarcation issues and Woolworths lurking in the background. But this may prove minor, relative to the impacts that will be felt when the US/Australia Free Trade Agreement is attacked in the International courts, as drug companies line up to challenge pricing arrangements set down under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. So what about the coming years, say up to 2020 and beyond? Professor Lloyd Sansom gave his forecast at the PAC conference held at the end of 2004. He forecasted the following in the lead up to 2020.

Pharma-Goss


* GUILD CALLS AMA SUBMISSION INACCURATE * PRICE CUTTING OF PBS DISPENSED MEDICINE * LINES ARE GETTING MESSY * DISPENSING ERROR A MYSTERY

Troubled Waters


In a bombshell report recently published in the Australian Financial Review, the Australian Medical Assocation’s (AMA) Bill Glasson has struck out at the Pharmacy Guild of Australia (PGA) in an unprecedented attack on pharmacy ownership and location restrictions. He seemed to intimate that there was now an alliance between Woolworths and the AMA to force a change of ownership structure in pharmacy. Pharmacy wholesalers are also depicted as waiting on the sidelines for the same outcome. Ref: Doctors Back Woolworths - Australian Financial Review Report Toni O'Loughlin Date: 22/01/2005

The Glasson Factor


AMA president, Dr Bill Glasson, does not seem to have a good word to say about pharmacists these days. In a recent television interview  He seems to completely lose the plot with respect to the proposed initiative where pharmacists will be better trained to help recognise depression and importantly refer to someone who can help. In the context of the proposed beyond blue initiative Dr Glasson’s comment......  “And we feel that the pharmacists' role should be limited largely to the dispensing of drugs.  That's all sorts of drugs, talking about the side effects of those drugs, and the interactions.” ...... seems somewhat negative and ill informed.

E-Commerce is Big, but its Influence on Offline Commerce is even Bigger


E-commerce is coming of age, but not in the way predicted in the bubble years. According to the American Department of Commerce, online retail sales in the U.S. last year rose 26 per cent, but amounted to only 1.6 per cent of total retail sales. The latter figure, however, does not take into account online travel services, financial services, ticket-sale agencies or a host of other activities. It also excludes purchases in grey markets, such as the online pharmacies that are thought to be responsible for a good proportion of the $700 million that Americans spent last year on buying cut-price prescription drugs from Canada.

Low Prices as a Long-Term Strategy in Pharmacy


The dust has almost settled on the traditional post-Christmas clearances of the major retailers, back to school catalogues are inundating my letterbox, the hot cross buns are in the supermarkets and winter fashions are in the shop windows. I walk past at lunchtime in the Adelaide stores when the mercury is heading towards 38 degrees. I am continually amazed by the strategies many retailers put bin place in their endeavors to improve their profitability

Good Citizens in the Media


In the lead up to Christmas 2004 Woolworths ran a series of advertisements promoting their image as “good corporate citizens”. Essentially the advertisements portrayed the conglomerate Woolworths as a company with a friendly, helpful relationship to the community from which it draws its profits.

New Year - Old Story


Isn’t it funny how things never seem to change? 2004 ended with the AMA taking pot shots at the pharmacy profession’s offer to help with monitoring patients and 2005 has started with an AMA submission about pharmacy ownership and how this leads to “inappropriate dispensing behaviour”. Sorry, did I miss something there? I’m not sure how restrictive pharmacy ownership regulations impact on the pattern of dispensing prescriptions generated by doctors, but what would I know?

Show Me The Money!


There is a disparity in the perceived value of a community pharmacist amongst many of our allied health professionals. While in many small areas there are real initiatives to develop ‘health care teams’ these are few and far between. The common catch cry by GP’s and their higher organisations that community pharmacies and the pharmacists who work in them are primarily retailers and health care provision is there secondary task is not truly accurate. The recent media by the AMA that community pharmacists are money hungry is one of the biggest insults for 2005 so far.

Smart Cards: Not So Smart


A smart card is able to store information and do its own processing. This would appear to be a great idea and give the card a great advantage over our regular “dumb” cards, such as ATM cards. But when it comes to security this just isn’t the case. There is a reason dumb cards need to remain dumb, especially when it comes to health information.

The Isabel Diagnostic System


Editor's Note: Pat Gallagher is associated in Australia with the Isabel diagnosis system. This system has the potential to become the icon for all clinicians in Australia, as a support system for diagnosis. While the software has its primary use in hospital and specialist settings, GPs, nurses and pharmacists will derive great benefits from the incorporation of such a system as Isabel, within their daily practice. Australian consultant pharmacists are likely to go down the pathway of disease monitoring and referral, and to so do, will require a high degree of accuracy and a trusted reference source to support this type of decision. Isabel looks set to be this system, and the story of Isabel and its development, I am sure, will occupy the interest of pharmacists as Pat Gallagher collects a range of experiences from users around the world.

International Trends in Regulating Complementary Medicines


As the proposed date of 1 July 2005 for the opening of the Joint Australian/New Zealand Agency for Regulating Medicines including New Zealand Dietary Supplements approaches, it is timely to look at what is happening internationally in this regulatory arena, especially in the close Asian region, where traditional herbal medicines have been a mainstay of health for thousands of years.  It was a great privilege and marvellous opportunity to be personally invited and funded by the Malaysian National Pharmaceutical Control Bureau, to speak at their seminar on Control of Quality and Safety of Traditional Medicines and Health Supplements, in Kuala Lumpur last week.

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