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- Issue 81: April 2009
- Issue 80: March 2009
- Issue 79: February 2009
- Issue 78: December 2008
- Issue 77: November 2008
- Issue 76: October 2008
- Issue 75: September 2008
- Issue 74: August 2008
- Issue 73: July 2008
- Issue 72: June 2008

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We are in the process of moving all of our articles to the new site.

In the meantime you can find them on the old i2P site.

Issue 39: July 2005



Welcome to the July 2005 Edition of i2P. The month of June will probably embed itself firmly in pharmacist's memory as being one of continuous onslaught, negative criticism, untruthful allegations and attempts to foist a supermarket model on the general population, utilising dubious arguments for an engineered outcome. It has certainly exposed the soft "underbelly" of pharmacy and has left the PGA in a position of having to do some rapid repair work.

Your Say

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 from Peter Sacassan in response to a recent article on company pharmacy ( some of the tax implications) and another from Tim Hewitt, criticising an article written by the editor titled, "Defending John Bronger".

Pharmacy News

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. Because this news area is dynamic and changes daily, readers should immediately bookmark any links that they find interesting. Response to any item is also encouraged through the "Letters (Your Say) " column.



The Next Five Years 1. Introduction

Concurrent with the preparation of this article series, the Fourth Agreement outcome was at the stage of being announced. Not that there is any expectation of any really good news, because the government side of the equation was still playing hardball (through slanted media leaks) right up to the last minute. The strategy of Tony Abbott, right from the beginning, was to push the PGA off balance, and in surprise attacks, gouge out the maximum savings for the PBS. The strategy has been very successful. The PGA was immediately placed on the defensive. In the process, the government were able to collect an impressive array of supporters, including the Australian Medical Association (AMA), Australian Consumer’s Association (ACA), Woolworths and various media elements, particularly TV current affair shows. The scorecard to date indicates wins and losses in the following areas:

The Next Five Years 2. Don’t Get Mad…Get Even!

One of the most obvious aspects of the recent (and not so recent attacks) on pharmacy has been the focus on pharmacy prices. This is hard to defend when “mystery shoppers” deliberately target pharmacy prices on certain items that they know, when promoted out of context, will show a price discrepancy weighted towards a reporter’s required outcome. When this appears in national media and repeated often enough, some of the mud sticks. Using propaganda techniques more allied with the Hitler regime of World War 11, lies repeated often enough become the new “truth”. Any advertising agency will tell you that the best results in advertising come from the outrageous repeated ad nauseam.

The Next Five Years 3. Professional Challenges & Getting the Model Right

Challenges for Australian pharmacists have certainly been multiplying in recent times. Not that they were not always there (and reported on by i2P over the years), but the Wilkinson Report of five years ago pointed the direction that official pharmacy declined to adopt. Now everyone is on the back foot, with the Pharmacy Guild of Australia (PGA) caught in a position of having to consider alternatives that are not palatable. Once the Fourth Agreement has been put to bed, I think many pharmacists, in practice, will be taking decisions to preserve their future, which may fracture the solidarity that has always been a strength for the PGA. As an example of the rapid changes that threaten to overtake pharmacy (simply because they are not adequately structured or capitalised) we report on the latest US supermarket development that has major implications for pharmacy. Australian pharmacists will definitely have to go back to the drawing board with the advent of a new supermarket onslaught into the traditional health arena.

The Next Five Years 4. What to do Now

Before you can arrive at the model of pharmacy you believe will serve your patients/customers, you must undertake a meticulous review of all aspects of your pharmacy. You may need help, for even the average pharmacist is so “busy”, it is difficult to engineer time. Being trapped in an incessant workflow is like being in prison, and while the politicians of this world can pontificate on what they believe to be “super profits” made by pharmacists, for the average pharmacy it is more like “profitless prosperity” that is set to worsen.

The Next Five Years 5. Conclusions

There is no doubt that from the amplified voice of the media, pharmacy is seen to be deficient in many areas that we thought were under control. It is beholden on all pharmacists to be able to contribute to the rectification of these deficiencies in a holistic manner. But how? Storming the bastions of the beleaguered PGA is not likely to succeed, as they are still in siege mentality. It requires first an acknowledgement from the PGA that they do not have all the answers and that they cannot represent all pharmacists. Therefore, as the lead organisation they must establish a structure where all pharmacists can be represented, and develop a five-year plan with achievable objectives. It must be transparent, and above all it must listen to all viewpoints. Is this pie in the sky? With the PGA likely to be one of the major casualties on or around five years from now, they must seek more creative ways to develop and deliver strategies and solutions acceptable to all. This will create the supportive power base that the PGA will need to maintain its position.

Pharmacists in Charge – Do the Regulations Need to be Reviewed?

The 4th Community Pharmacy Agreement is just about done.  Shortly the outcomes of the negotiations between the Federal Government and those representing the owners of pharmacies will become public and across Australia calculators will run hot as thousands of pharmacists try to quantify their wins and their losses for the next five years. Given the Government’s strategy of rolling the wholesalers’ margin into the mix, the outcomes may not all be clear in the first instance.  Any reduction in the wholesale margin will precipitate some significant changes to the (over) service levels previously enjoyed by pharmacies across Australia and the charges applied thereto.

"Pills by the Hundred"

With the Pharmacy Guild (NSW) election in full swing this month, it is timely to examine the daily routine of pharmacy behind the political rhetoric. From a media perspective, the role of pharmacists was again under scrutiny and the following article from the Sunday Telegraph (5/6/05) illustrates the problematic of putting practice into action.

Looking Backwards, Going Forward

“The past is a mere rehearsal for the future”. A heavy introduction to get your attention. Following the entrails of the current Government and the Guild five-year negotiations these past months has been, if not entertaining in a macabre way, certainly an extraordinary event. The government is not playing to the script, pardon the pun, any more. Made more so I guess, by the spectre of a retail grocery chain eyeing with capricious greed, the hallowed ground of community pharmacy. Which is a common view in pharmacy-land, if not any longer at the government level.

The Role of Pharmacy in the Self-Care Paradigm

At the recent World Self-Medication Industry (WSMI) General Assembly, the WHO confirmed that self-care has an important role in cardiovascular disease. The Cardiovascular Disease Unit at WHO has recently published in collaboration with WSMI, the World Heart Federation and the International Stroke Society the booklet “Avoiding Heart Attacks and Strokes. Don’t be a victim- Protect yourself”. Given the interest of organizations such as WHO in producing such publications it is worth pondering the role of self-medication and pharmacy in assisting consumers achieve their aims in self-care.

Would Sir like Fries with That?

A few weeks ago a middle aged gentleman handed a wad of eight scripts (both originals and repeats) into our pharmacy and then stood gawking into the dispensary with a finger on his watch. I must have been looking back at him in a bemused manner because he then went on to explain that he was timing us. He had been using a combination of different pharmacies but had been thinking of using another (who was advertising his speediness on the radio). I explained to him that he may need to work out a ‘statistical sample’ as the time taken will depend on a number of factors e.g. time of day, distractions, number of repeats etc.

Digital Imaging - Two New Kiosks Plus Marketing Tips.

Editor's Note: From August 2005, Les will be expanding his horizons to become consulting editor for the Australian Journal of Pharmacy. With the experience that Les is able to draw on, there is no doubt that the AJP will be enhanced through first hand insights into the digital photographic market. At i2P we have been fortunate to have had Les as part of our publication, and be the first of the pharmacy publications to alert pharmacists to the revival of photography, through the formative phases of the digital imaging market. Les has hinted that he might be able to continue some of his writing through i2P, and thus maintain his electronic readership, while simultaneously expanding readership in hard copy format. i2P has indicated a willingness to explore such an alliance, so we look forward to what that may bring, and wish Les every success in his new post.

Workforce Planning- An Urgent Need for Young Pharmacists

I recently attended the Clinical Symposium conducted by the NSW branch of the PSA in conjunction with the Pharmacy Guild of Australia NSW branch. A dedicated team of organisers ensured the clinical symposium was a well-received success. It was interesting to chat to a few of the older pharmacists attending and later to have an in depth discussion with many of the enthusiastic young pharmacists. All of the pharmacists I caught up thoroughly enjoyed the symposium and many had gone next door to be pampered in the Health and Beauty Expo as well. If you have a chance to attend next years symposium I encourage you to do so as it was an excellent weekend at a reasonable price.

PSA Press Releases

More than 2500 pharmacist, students and pharmacy staff attended the Clinical Pharmacy Expo and Trade Fair 2005

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