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From the desk of the editor - Introducing current ideas, perspectives and issues, to the profession of pharmacy
Issue 48: May 2006
Welcome to the May 2006 edition of i2P.
As we were going to press we noticed that the federal government was calling for expressions of interest to manage the Community Service Obligation (CSO) Fund set up under the Fourth Agreement.
We would express the hope that the eventual administrator organisation accepted for this position of trust would be completely at arms length to the original negotiators i.e. The Pharmacy Guild of Australia (PGA)and the National Pharmaceutical Services Association (NPSA - the organisation representing full-line pharmaceutical wholesalers).
Indexed funding of $150 million per annum will be provided to ensure that Australians will gain access to PBS medicines, no matter where they live.
Global Health News from the Internet - Pharmacy Related Links
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
Rollo Manning - A Regular Column Reporting the News Behind the News
Pharma-goss With Rollo Manning
* PBS "Think Tank"
* Clandestine Laboratories
* Talks at School
* Quote of the Month
Neil Johnston - Management Consultant Perspective
This article is presented in a two-part series, and is an attempt to identify and comment on those issues that confront the pharmacy profession currently, and over the life of the Fourth Agreement.
While the issues are noted separately, they are integrated one with the other and thus overlap.
Any attempt to deal with any single issue eventually brings you back for a reality check to ensure that you bring all the others along in parallel.
Pharmacy has become a complex profession, with many of the complexities being self-inflicted.
The first six of the eleven issues identified are:
Privacy, Delegation of Dispensing, S2/S3 Sales, New Staff, Illness Certificates, and Patient Mentoring.
It would be great if the pharmacy profession could spend the next four years eliminating and simplifying its processes, and at the same time eradicating all the repressive professional-political agendas that seem to be proliferating.
Neil Johnston - Management Consultant Perspective
In Part Two of the Eleven Most Confronting Issues for Pharmacy, there is an attempt to define those issues that will require a whole of profession solution.
Again, being integrated problems, they have to be considered separately and in parallel with each other.
The fact that pharmacy finds itself in disharmony and pharmacists are in a job that is fast becoming unfulfilling, is an indictment of official pharmacy.
All the issues raised in this article are vitally important, but perhaps the most important is the issue of not having a "Think Tank" facility that is organised outside of official pharmacy control.
Where can the majority of pharmacists (non PGA members) voice their concerns constructively that helps to authoritatively define pharmacy and the role of a pharmacist?
Not that PGA pharmacists should not be included in such a process - it would not work without their input.
But just spare a thought for those pharmacists that have been excluded from the policy defining process
for so long, that the profession can definitely be regarded as lopsided.
The issues covered in this article are:
Disease state management for a fee, Continuing Education-specialist requirements, Infrastructure, Ownership, and Think Tank requirement.
Letters to the editor are welcomed in respect of any of the issues discussed.
Chris Arblaster, PhD - A Consumer Self-Care Perspective
Recent press reports from the government strongly support the increasing emphasis on self-care.
It is also one that will benefit retail pharmacy and enhance its status as consumers take more responsibility for their own healthcare and seek an increasingly wider range of professional advice.
Thus, ASMI was most concerned to learn for the first time at the APP Conference, of proposed changes to the whole approach pharmacy may take to the way S2 products are offered for sale to consumers as outlined in the 2nd Edition of QCPP.
Anthony Tassone - A Pharmacy Manager Perspective
The new Workplace Relations laws, WorkChoice, came into force on 27th March 2006. Pharmacy employers were expected to be advantaged by the legislation that would give all small businesses with less than 100 employee’s greater flexibility when dismissing staff. However, what nobody seemed to expect were the provisions of ‘any registered health practitioner’ having the authority to issue a medical certificate for any employee missing a day of work.
Under the raft of ‘any registered health practitioner’ came a swag of other professions that have a registration and governing body including: naturopaths, osteopaths, chiropractors and of course pharmacists.
Neil Retallick - A Friendly Society Perspective
The healthcare system in Australia, especially as it relates to the role of Pharmacy, is a complex one. An agglomeration of big business and small, sole traders and global enterprises, Federal Government and State Government, government and private enterprise, government and consumers, sole traders and consumers, government and big business.
All of these organisations are networking together to improve health outcomes for Mr and Mrs Average Australian - more or less.
Pattie Beerens - From a Wholesaler Perspective
Contained within the Fourth Community Pharmacy Agreement signed by the Pharmacy Guild and the Federal Government was the introduction of a new remuneration scheme for the wholesale delivery of PBS medicines.
This is known as the Community Service Obligation (CSO) .
It is to take effect from mid this year but is now under threat due to the lobbying activity of those who have benefited under the current flat 10% wholesale margin regime.
Robert Forsythe - Globetrotting Community Pharmacist Perspective
Growing up in Northern Ireland during the "troubles" our politicians spent a great deal of time arguing over who should run the country. There seemed to be relatively little discussion on what people would do if they were in control. Issues like health, education and transport; the things that people really care about were often not given the time they deserved.
The same seems to be true of our situation in Australian Pharmacy at the minute. The sale of Pharmacy Direct to Coles Myer provoked a flurry of reactions from various quarters. Some pharmacists thought it was the end of the world and very few seemed thrilled by the idea. Consumer groups seemed pleased as it seems that the supermarkets have found a way to break the stranglehold of what they perceive as a cartel. The pharmacy guild made a statement that the model was typical of what was to be expected of Coles - a low service, internet based process.
Terry Irvine - Community Pharmacist Perspective
As the recent acquisition by Coles of Pharmacy Direct has provided many pharmacists with reasons to consider their future, there were some aspects of "Freakonomics" a book by Steven D Levitt and Stephen J Dubner, that seemed pertinent to the debate.
This is an interesting book and I commend to those people who are curious about the effect of economics on their life.
I bought the book at Auckland Airport; I presume it is available in Australia.
Karalyn Huxhagen - A Queensland PSA Councilor Perspective
Editor's Note: In this article, Karalyn Huxhagen highlights concerns surounding the Home Medicines Review Program, and the opportunities that may be lost, unless there is an effort to restore this program to "flagship" status.
Karalyn points to a link to a recent evaluation report that pharmacists should take the time to read in full.
Meanwhile she discusses below, one of the more important of the recommendations.
Chris Wright - Dispensary Systems Perspective
Sounds easy but it’s not because of the myriad of rules and regulations governing the behaviour of pharmacies and Pharmacists’. But….
Pharmacy income is currently locked into a contractual arrangement that is decades past its use by date and should be changed to a system that rewards Pharmacists’ for performance rather than punching out prescriptions at a rate that is often increasingly unsafe.
The meat industry has long been successfully self-governed at retail level, why not Pharmacy?
Why not employ a system whereby income is related to individual Pharmacy performance?
Yes, yes, I know this is fantasyland - but let’s dream a bit today.
If we assume that “Community Pharmacy”, produces good outcomes and improves the health of the population by way of interventions and all of those other bits and pieces that makes for a good community Pharmacy, why not protect the culture of it?
This is rough and broad, but the following attributes are valued should be rewarded.
(Well, I value them in my ideal “dream Pharmacy of the future”; yours of course may well be a different model).
Barry Urquhart - International Conference Keynote Speaker
The first quarter of the calendar year has expired and an challenging business landscape lies ahead.
Interestingly, a number of Australian Business leaders have made contact in the past three weeks, following their reading (in some cases, rereading) of our book “from Black Hole to Blue Sky”.
The consensus of those individuals, arrived at independently, is that the marketplace essentials of 2006 accurately and closely reflect those of the very early 1990’s.
Flatteringly, they have shared the books with staff members and associates and recommended “From Black Hole to Blue Sky” as essential reading to others.