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From the desk of the editor - Introducing current ideas, perspectives and issues, to the profession of pharmacy
Issue 36: April 2005
Welcome to the April 2005 edition of i2P E-Magazine.
This month it is apparent that a significant percentage of i2P writers are concerned with moves by Health Minister Abbott to adjust the price of generic drugs downwards, and more worrying, float the patient co-payment on PBS prescriptions.
As we go to press, Minister Abbott
has succeeded in obtaining a voluntary agreement from manufacturers to reduce prices, and the co-payment looked like being a bargaining chip in the negotiations leading into the Fourth Agreement, due to be finalised by the 30th June 2005
Letters to the Editor - A Reader's Perspective
Letters to the Editor are encouraged to be submitted to this column, be they commentary on pharmacy at large or criticism and commentary of the authors and their articles.
Your name and contact details are required for publication, but they will be suppressed if requested.
Commentary relating to the global links section is also welcomed.
This month we have a letter criticising the Boots' style of service and a request to keep improving the Australian model, definitely outside of supermarket reach.
Special Correspondent - STOP PRESS
Editor's Note: i2P E-Magazine is noted for its diversity of opinion. There is no "party line" and each writer is free to express and defend their personal beliefs for their vision of the pharmacy profession in Australia.
So the debate about policy and price changes to the PBS ranges the full spectrum, from left to right.
This segment of i2P is dedicated to testing opinion from other persons who help to formulate or change policies in the health sector, but who do not currently write for i2P.
For this edition we have chosen to speak to Nicola Ballenden from the Australian Consumers Association.
Rollo Manning - A Regular Column Reporting the News Behind the News
* CUT DRUGS COSTS
* COST INCREASES MET BY PBS
* REMOTE HEALTH CONFERENCE EXPOSES A STAR
* VALE BARRY YOUNG
* PRICE WAR ON IN TASSIE
Neil Johnston - Management Consultant Perspective
Pharmacists may think that they are being unfairly targeted when Tony Abbott begins to think aloud on generic drug margins and patient co-payment discounting.
These are just some of the ideas that will become firm policy unless there are very strong arguments put forward by pharmacy, to counter this type of thinking.
The problem faced by the Federal Government is that health costs overall are spiraling upwards. So fast, they will become unsustainable, unless the brakes are applied now.
Soft options like pharmacy, are always attractive targets, but the various Guild/Government agreements have basically kept the lid on pharmacy costs over time.
It is therefore, hard to justify incursions into pharmacy finances that could literally put two-thirds of Australian Pharmacies out of business, if publicised changes are grafted on to the current pharmacy model.
For government, this means the harder target of curtailing doctor payments may be the only valid option, and hence the attack by Bill Glasson from the Australian Medical Association, who released a press statement well before the actually delivery of his recent speech
to a group of MPs from both sides of the political spectrum.
It was a "down and dirty" attack on pharmacy in a deliberate attempt to deflect government attention from doctors, back to the softer option that is pharmacy.
Ken Stafford - A Consultant Pharmacist Perspective
“AMA launches vicious attack on pharmacy” or words to this effect appeared in the major eastern states newspapers recently in what seems to be a coordinated attack by doctors and politicians on our profession.
The old chestnut that drug costs would fall if only the “closed shop” that is pharmacy ownership could be opened up continually is raised in the media.
The Australian Newspaper has been running with this issue lately, presenting all sorts of one-sided arguments and half truths.
Where are we going to go I wonder?
I simply want to be able to continue to operate as a health professional but how difficult it becomes to concentrate on this when every time I turn around pharmacy seems to be under threat.
Robert Forsythe - Globetrotting Community Pharmacist Perspective
Ever heard of ‘Supplementary prescribing’?
This is the name that has been given to a new arrangement in the United Kingdom where a professional who would not normally be permitted to prescribe medication (e.g. a pharmacist or nurse) prescribes under the direction of an established prescriber (e.g. a medical practitioner or dentist).
Annona Pearse - From a media perspective
The first part of this month’s article examines the relationship between organisations and the media with regard to the role that public relations plays in assisting an organisation, such as the Pharmacy Guild, to monitor and interpret its social environment.
This month’s discussion draws on the work of Bartlett (2004) and her examination of organisations and their use of the media, and is particularly relevant given the most recent debate in the media regarding the Federal Government’s desire to cut pharmacy and wholesaler margins.
If he was caught “unawares”, as John Bronger declared with regard to the Federal Government’s media foray about margins, then strategic public relations need to be implemented by the Guild to identify perceptions of collective opinion about pharmacy’s role in delivering affordable health care, given, that in this example at least, the Guild are on the “back foot”.
It is important, therefore, for the Guild to be aware of what the public perception is of Pharmacy so media strategies can be more specific when problems such as these arise.
Con Berbatis - A Pharmacy Researcher Perspective
Editor : The internet in just 10 years has transformed communication for households and businesses in Australia and internationally. The internet promises to change health care and disease prevention at the population and individual levels just as rapidly in developed societies. Con Berbatis points to the key implications of growing internet use for community pharmacies in Australia.
Pat Gallagher - An IT Consultant Perspective
To the certain and better future when all health transactions are being ubiquitously exchanged, electronically over the Internet.
Golly gosh, it seems so compelling, so clear cut that this will happen.
Yet as nothing much has actually happened you have to ask why?
Neil Retallick - A Friendly Society Perspective
Many observers have been saying for some time that the pharmacy landscape in Australia is going to change dramatically over the next several years.
Given what’s happening now, or what is about to happen, that time frame may have been too generous.
Simon Rudderham - A Community Pharmacist Perspective
You would have to be living on Mars, in a cave wearing ear muffs and covering your eyes with your hands, if as a pharmacist, you hadn’t heard that the government is keen to cut the margins of PBS medications for community pharmacy.
James Ellerson - A Marketing Consultant Perspective
With harder times forecast for pharmacists over the next 12 months and beyond, it is an imperative that a review of competitive strategy occurs.
The central component of the review needs to focus on convenience - one that pharmacy has difficulty in providing a competitive edge, given that convenience usually equates to a location where a consumer seeks out basic requirements i. e.food.
The closer you are to where food is purchased, the more convenient you are.
Obviously, if you follow this logic through, you end up with a pharmacy in a food store.
This concept does not sit well with pharmacists for a number of reasons, but consumers do value their pharmacists.
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