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- Issue 81: April 2009
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Issue 49: June 2006



Recently, I attended a conference on Interprofessional Learning, an initiative being spearheaded by some major universities, including Sydney University. I was interested to find that I was the only pharmacist present at that conference, with doctors,nurses academics and naturopaths making up the bulk of the audience. Interprofessional learning is designed to eliminate interprofessional rivalry, territorial fights and the sharing of information held in separate"silos" within the various professions. One question arose from the audience: "If the boundaries are blurred between the traditional professions, would they begin to lose their identity?" The concensus was that this would not occur, yet I was to discover that Pharmacy had already lost its identity within that group and was consistently lumped in as Allied Health. Doctors, nurses and naturopaths still seemed to have a discrete identity. Is pharmacy losing the plot?

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.

PSA News Releases

PSA News - the latest from the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia. Keep in touch with activities of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia and their professional support for Australian pharmacists. This month: * PSA advice to pharmacists issuing fitness to work certificates * Brand Substitution: Criticising pharmacists with meaningless statistics doesn't help AMA cause * Paroxetine: New suicidality information added to PI

Events and Press Releases

As part of our information service, i2P informs on Conferences, Workshops and Seminarsor press releases that may be of interest to pharmacists. PSA information will continue to be published separately in the section reserved for PSA press releases. Pharmacy organisations may submit material for publication, preferably in digital format (Word document). This month: * Improving Medication Safety: sharing the lessons learned 28-29 September 2006 Sydney, NSW, Australia Change Champions invites participation in its next Toolkit Seminar, Improving Medication Safety: sharing the lessons learned by submitting an abstract to present at the seminar. Aims of Seminar · To share information about initiatives, structures, systems and strategies that have been successfully implemented and have improved medication safety for patients. · To showcase best practice, models of care, models of service delivery, tools and resources that have been effective in improving medication safety and/or reducing medication errors.   * The Friendly Societies Pharmacy 2006 Pharmacy Management Conference. This conference is organised by the Friendly Societies and features people associated with National Pharmacies, one of the most efficient and professional pharmacy operators in Australia. Friendly Societies are a genuine alternative model of pharmacy, and have been around virtually since the First Fleet. The conference is open to all, and if the last conference is any indication, the hospitality is friendly and the content is topical and first-rate, and you will recognise many Pharma industry faces in attendance. Mark your diary now !


Pharma-goss  - With Rollo Manning BEWARE - THE FUTURE IS COMING! * You don’t know what you don’t know * Automated dispensing machines on the go * A challenge ahead for Pharmacy Boards * Who really owns this pharmacy? * PERSON TO WATCH

Privacy and Security - Issues Demanding a Priority

Last month I highlighted eleven most confronting issues for pharmacy that needed resolution over the life of the Fourth Agreement. The first of these related to privacy and the lack of it, in a community pharmacy setting. In a report “Consumer Experiences, Needs and Expectations of Community Pharmacy” which was funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA), and developed through a consortium headed by the University of South Australia (Quality Use of Medicines and Pharmacy Research centre), privacy concerns were among the recommendations highlighted. It should be noted that you could never have privacy if you do not have security of data and communications – be they electronic, hard copy or verbal.

Another Lesson? Will the Reduced Margin on Generic Drugs Compromise Pharmacy Operations as They Exist Today?

We all learned a lot last year but it looks like some of the lessons have come too late.  We learned that the Pharmacy Guild thought they could hold the PBS drug margin by diverting the Government’s need for cost reductions to the wholesalers.  We learned the NPSA thought they could use this opportunity to regain the market share they have been losing because many generic medicines are delivered direct to pharmacies.  We learned that the CSO is proving to be far more complex than anybody thought it would.  We also learned that administering it will cost more than the $1 million the Agreement indicated.  We learned that what was not being negotiated by the Government and the Pharmacy Guild was just as important as what was.  We have learned that the gross profit margins being made by pharmacists on generic drugs have not been protected in any way, and we know without any shadow of doubt that these margins will be reduced going forward.

PBS Myths & Facts Ė the PBS is Not Broken!

On 17 May 2006, The Hon Tony Abbott MP, Minister for Health and Ageing announced that the Government had begun formal consultations with the pharmaceutical sector about possible further refinements to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) “Possible measures that the Government has put on the table for discussion are:

New Income Streams - Why Not?

Pharmacy needs new income streams. Of that there is no doubt! In a climate of rapidly falling Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme (PBS) margins and shrinking retail sales market share, you don’t need to be a genius to work out that community pharmacy is in distress. Our pharmacy leadership have produced a “double-whammy”. On the one hand they have delivered a profitability result through the PBS that threatens the survival of a majority of pharmacies, and at the same time have withheld sanction on professional income streams (pharmacist prescribing and illness certificates), effectively blocking future income from these areas. The enormity of these disastrous decisions would lead you to think our leaders are working for Woolworths and Coles, by weakening the total fabric and future prospects of community pharmacy. One could also be led to think that our illustrious leadership are delivering pharmacy on a platter for a 2010 handover. And these bad decisions will now cause division and bring into further question the privileged position of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia (PGA) continually taking centre-stage and making major decisions on behalf of all pharmacists, due their privileged relationship with government and its funding of pharmacy. They can’t even do it right for their members, let alone non-members!

Proposed Changes to the PBS and Impact on Self-Medication

The Minister for Health and Aging, Tony Abbott recently “consulted” with industry including ASMI, Medicines Australia, the Guild and wholesalers on proposed changes to the PBS. In essence, the government is determined to reduce expenditure on the PBS by $1billion over the next fours years and to create “headspace” for new molecules entering the system. It proposes to do this by introducing a variety of measures including 5% automatic price reductions for each new generic product entering a category and by implementing average weighted pricing.

Seal Of Approval

Currently in Victoria, the Pharmacy Board are embarking on a lengthy process of inspecting all pharmacies to ensure they meet required standards of practice to continue operation.  It is part of the Pharmacy Practice Act 2004 which requires all pharmacy proprietors to obtain the Board’s approval (or re-approval of sorts) to carry on with business, no later than July 2007. As part of the inspections, Board inspectors will prepare a report for each pharmacy outlining any issues that must be rectified (preferably within a two-month period – but at least proactive steps taken with the intention of completion ASAP and at least prior to July 2007).  Each proprietor communicates this back to the Pharmacy Board in the form of a signed Statutory Declaration.

Why Do We Fear Anything New (or even not so new)?

Some months ago I wrote how pharmacists must set about changing their image in the big wide world if they want to survive the many attacks being mounted on the profession. So, how are we going? The answer depends pretty much on what the profession hopes to achieve. The latest Guild Government Agreement (?) has been signed, supposedly offering some stability to pharmacy, except it appears there was some “dirty work” going on in the corridors of power in relation to the PBS even as negotiations were under way. Pharmacy once again has been “screwed”, one might say.

Online Consultation - Is There a Place For This Service?

There is a trend in the US for GPs to provide an online consulting service for lower level activities, in an attempt to increase patient service and reduce patient waiting time for more serious conditions. So far the American experience evolves around simple consultations, prescription refills and the results of routine tests. The trend is increasing and has found favour with health insurance providers because of the money savings involved. While pharmacy in Australia has a high level of computer literacy, it is only just now embracing Information Technology and its wider application in a pharmaceutical health setting. Given the move to disease state management in pharmacy, is there a part for the Internet to play?

Highlights of the Annual Convention

Editor's Note: At the Sydney Convention Centre, Darling Harbour, The PMA Pharmacy Group recently held their Annual Convention under the headline “Photo Kiosks – is there anything else for Pharmacy.”   The speakers were Phil Gresham of Fotofast in Brisbane, who also sits on the DIMA (Digital Imaging Association) international board, Terry Herfort of Herfort’s Chemist, Avalon, Jeff Hume of Berwick Amcal Pharmacy in Victoria (twice a winner of Kodak Express awards) and Keith Shipton, a consultant and editor , well known in the photographic industry. The chairperson was pioneer minilab pharmacist James Delahunty, of Fotofun and Delahunty’s in Brisbane. The PMA Convention ran multiple photographic sessions of interest to retailers  each morning from April 28th to 30th, 2006. There were a number of topics on each day of the Photographic Convention which were of interest to pharmacists. The Photo Imaging World Trade Exhibition ran until 6 pm each day with well over 100 major photo and imaging companies represented. James Delauhunty sent us a snapshot of the event.

A Question a Barrister Should Ask

As you all well know, a Barrister will only ask a question for which the answer is already known. The question I ask is…….. Why is it that too few Pharmacists’ appear to be involved in presenting and developing products that will play a part in how the business of Pharmacy will be conducted in the coming years? I wish I knew the answer, but a Barrister I am not. Until Neil asked a very good question last week I was happy not to bore you all this month.

Marketing Focus E-Zine

The prevailing marketplace has the hallmarks of an economy which is currently being primarily driven by the subjectivity of emotions. Varied, often conflicting, information abounds. It is noticeably that while sales volumes in a broad spectrum of industry and commerce sectors remain acceptable, inventories are being reduced, research and development expenditure is being curtained, capital investment is put on hold and bank lending practices are being tightened. It is a time in which one’s tolerance for risk is being put to the test. More so now than at any time in the past 12 years, decisions should be reviewed, evaluated and made as if they involve risk capital. In short, the downside variable may current match or exceed the upside prospects. In the words of the quintessential consultant: “It’s your call.”

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