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Issue 37: May 2005



Welcome to i2P for May 2005. There is not much in the way of upbeat comment this month as pharmacists find themselves under attack from many quarters. While we recognise that we have certain protections in terms of delivering health services and prescriptions, the penalty involved is a constant range of inquiries into pharmacy, coupled with distorted media reports, which seem to indicate that we are extorting people and not honouring the Third Guild/Government Agreement. Even when you work under an agreement, there seems little obligation by government to honour its end.


The FOCUS column is being developed to handle "short story" snippets that do not qualify as "articles" but are too interesting to let go. This month we have a good news story about Postinor (and we certainly need those) and another about the release of miniTG, a database designed for hand-held computers. It is simply amazing how much storage can be organised in hand-helds these days, and when someone designs a docking station for hand-helds, there is no doubt in my mind that they will become the primary computer.


This section of i2P aims to keep readers informed of global news that may affect pharmacy. Readers are encouraged to share links to items of interest, 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 (Your Say) " column.



Storm Clouds Gathering Fast

I cannot help but feel despondent over the sorry state of community pharmacy. Helping to produce this feeling is a motley group of anti-pharmacy elements, ranging from so-called consumer advocates and various mouthpieces for Woolworths and Coles, trying to foment a media frenzy, with contrived stories that are baseless. Add to this mix a federal government with unbridled political power coming up next July, when it assumes majority control of the Senate. It is a government that has simply spent billions of dollars to bribe the electorate and gain power - and now the dollars have to be clawed back from a range of targets, one of which is pharmacy. We also see the shameful spectacle of an AMA president joining the bandwagon opportunistically, simply to deflect criticism from his overpaid specialist group, one real cause of medical cost blowouts. And dancing around on tip-toe is the Pharmacy Guild, unable to defend its primary constituents, because it is leading and looking after only 35% of pharmacists, and the model they impose on all pharmacists is just not acceptable.

And Now For The Latest Headlines

The media headlines over the past month reveal, through language and even cartoon imagery, that pharmacy has been receiving some attention it would rather forget. Here is but a sample of the press report headlines: “Hard to swallow – Revealed: Secret drug price rips-offs by your chemist” – The Daily Telegraph 12/4/05 “Overcharging by chemists costs millions” – The Age 12/4/05 “Chemists log on for massive mark-ups” – Sydney Morning Herald 12/4/05 “Writing cheaper script on drugs – Abbott cuts 250m in payments for chemists” – The Daily Telegraph 13/4/05 “Chemists’ discounts rort” – Financial Review 14/4/05 “AMA warns against cost link” – Financial Review 21/4/05

Pharmacies Must be Designed to Support the Behaviours of Unfettered Customers

With the continued statements by the government to limit the increase in the PBS and the high dependence of retail pharmacy on this segment for the bulk of their income, the importance of having a strong and vibrant retail section is becoming critical. This does not necessarily mean trying to sell a wide range of items that are readily available in other channels.

You Canít Please Everybody Ė at any price. Anyway, do you want to?

In 2002 and 2003, ACNielsen conducted a review of the impact of the ‘new’ Every Day Low Pricing (EDLP) strategies that were being introduced to Australian consumers by the grocery chains.  This review did not consider the positive logistical aspects of EDLP but was undertaken from the consumer’s point of view.

The Internet and Community Pharmacy : 2. More Developments and Rogue E-Pharmacies

Editor: The internet continues to stamp its growth in the home, business and media internationally and in Australia. Its growth in health care and pharmacy is dogged however by Spam, ‘phishing’ and rogue e-pharmacies . In May and June Con Berbatis reports on how pharmacy has capitalised on internet developments and how it may overcome the adverse effects of spam and rogue e-pharmacies .

Should I Incorporate my Pharmacy?

Editor's Note: Malcolm Wells is a practising Victorian accountant and has a growing number of pharmacists as clients. Victoria is the only Australian state to embrace formally the concept of a company pharmacy within its Pharmacy Act (not just a service company). When we talk about company pharmacies we refer to companies that are private companies (large or small) that have only pharmacist directors and shareholders. This is distinct from the Woolworths vision of a corporate pharmacy i.e. a public company with any person to act as a director or a shareholder. Because of its vision, the state of Victoria, in the opinion of i2P, will represent one of the few growth areas for pharmacy in the coming years. While Malcolm Wells talks about the advantages and disadvantages of company pharmacy from an accountant perspective, there are other structural advantages for management, professional development and young pharmacist investment, all combining to offer a highly competitive model.

Through a Generational Looking Glass - Brightly

It is 10pm, 1 May 2020. Bruce, a 20-year-old student suddenly takes ill. One of the flatmate's, Raelene, decides that he needs a doctor immediately. Raelene turns on the nearest wall communication unit and voice-commands a search for ‘doctor available – English language’. Within the stipulated 30 seconds Medicare.E.alert has located an on-duty GP in Durban, an all night service in Perth WA and another back up GP in New Delhi. Bruce likes Indian and they log-on to Dr Medhi.

Do We Need More Divisions?

When was the last time you discussed a clinical problem with another pharmacist in your locality? Or worked together on a project to help with the public health agenda of your local population? For most of us the answer is too difficult to remember. We seem to be better at talking on Auspharmlist or the like than actually connecting with our colleagues a few blocks away. This cannot be in the interest of the profession, nor the public for that matter.

Image is Everything

As a pharmacist and a national councillor of PSA it is a very unfulfilling task to have to continually battle to with other health professionals, as to the professional and clinical ability of community pharmacists. The lack of awareness amongst our medical colleagues as to the roles that community pharmacists perform each day is a sad inditement on our profession. While the community that we deliver our services to continually tell the pollsters how much they respect our abilities and services it seems that our medical colleagues must very rarely take advantage of these services when they are ill or in need of pharmacy services.

The Codex - Fact or Fiction

Editor's Note: This month Val Johanson has written an article on the CODEX for Vitamins and Minerals. Like the editor, you may not know too much about it, but it is a document worth understanding. Val stands for responsible self-help in the area of nutritional supplements and comlementary therapies. Recently, a freelance medical writer known as Eve Hillary produced an article that was a little extreme in its message. Many people have written to Eve Hillary criticising the article which she has since revised . However, it is still biased, and Val has come to the rescue to explain what needs addressing. The following was taken from the Eve Hillary website located at http://www.evehillary.org/ "Eve has spent 25 years in health care where she has observed the medical industry at first hand from the inside. Knowledge is power, and Eve’s primary objective is to return this power to the individuals whose lives depend on it. Her most recent book is Health Betrayal; Staying away from the sickness industry. She is also a public speaker.  Eve now lives on the New South Wales coast and has a clinic within a medical practice. Eve Hillary is a freelance medical writer and research  analyst on issues pertaining to health care, environmental health and the ways in which globalisation erodes Democracy.  She specializes in documenting the human impact of the politics of multinational industry, including medical and biotech corporations. She covers issues such as emerging epidemics, gene pollution, chemical pollution, government regulators, third world exploitation and the role of the media." Val Johanson begins:

Digital Imaging at Brisbane Convention

Editor's Note: There is no doubt about it, the pharmacists involved in the marketing of digital images certainly have their act together. The energy and vitality devoted to the promotion of their industry is commendable. If this were ever to be matched by the promotion of core pharmacy business, what an interesting business and professional life we would lead. Les Brener reports on another convention to be held in Brisbane and comments on the latest in digital cameras and the low prices now coming in to vogue.

PSA Press Releases May 2005

Keep in touch with activities of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia and their professional support for Australian pharmacists.

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