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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 58: March 2007



Welcome to i2P March 2007 edition. This year is rocketing along and I often feel that I am just along for the ride. Events continue to disrupt the pharmacy profession and it often appears that the all news is bad. I do fear that many pharmacists are beginning to feel the pressure of all the PBS changes, competitive retail pressures and declining cash flows/profitability problems, and are just doing what is expedient – not what is professionally expected of them.

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 Student Membership - Where is Pharmacy Taking You?   * Pharmacists well placed to supply emergency hormonal contraception   * Did you know Dementia affects 500,000 Australians?

Find it Here

As part of our information service, i2P informs on Conferences, Workshops and Seminars or 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: * FIP Pharmaceutuical Sciences World Congress and the 67th Annual Congress (Beijing, China) * The Pharmacy 2007 Conference - organised by the Friendly Societies, this conference has gone from strength to strength each year to become the premier pharmacy conference. Don't be disappointed - book now to ensure your reservation in Hobart this year. * New release - Therapeutic Guidelines Gastrointestinal 4 2006. Order your copy to keep pace with current developments and guidelines.

Health News from Around the World

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 through the "Contact Us" panel located on the home page. 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.


* 5,000 pharmacies is 2K too many * Medical centre pharmacy a big step forward * Say what you mean and stick with it * Direct to consumer advertising a no no *There’s something in a name

That's What Friends are For?

Have you noticed that pharmacy has been losing a lot of friends lately? Ranging from customers/patients disputing some technicality (usually price) relating to PBS supply, national newspapers highlighting pharmacy “rip-offs” almost on a daily basis, GP criticism on the lack of privacy during professional consults or the provision of a sensitive service such as methadone, and more seriously, the recent undercover shopper visit by Choice, highlighting the unprofessional selling of Xenical to a patient who did not need the product in the first place.

Ask Your Pharmacist? - I Don’t Think So! PART TWO of a critical look at the role of the pharmacist as a reliable healthcare provider

Editor's Note: Stuart Adams is a nutritional activist with a passion for evidence-based professional advice. He has observed the quality of advice some pharmacists give in their daily practice when recommending nutritional supplements, and he finds it lacking. Given that pharmacy has a commitment to excellence and has been diligently working to raise accreditation standards, what is going wrong in the nutritional advice area? In a two-part series that commenced in last month's edition of i2P, Stuart talks of his observations and first-hand experiences when working in a pharmacy environment. This month Stuart is suggesting some potential solutions. You may disagree with him - that is your prerogative. But if you catch a glimpse of your reflection within this well researched article, then please take this as an opportunity to raise the barrier. If Stuart has found these "holes" within the pharmacy profession, others will have surely noticed, and the reputation of all pharmacists declines accordingly . Shortly after the February edition of i2P was published, a Choice survey concerning the sale of S3 products, specifically Xenical. was published in the daily newspapers. It confirmed some of Stuart's observations and pharmacists must immediately correct these proven problems. I value the reputation reported in past surveys of the Morgan Gallup Poll, measuring public opinion for the trust and integrity of pharmacists. I believe that the ratings were justifiably earned over past years. I believe that there are many pharmacists letting me down by not being professional. Please take this as a wake-up call and examine your professionalism against the following commentary.

Ban on Xenical Advertising is a Step Backwards for Tackling Obesity

The Australian Self-Medication Industry (ASMI) is disappointed that Xenical would no longer be able to be directly promoted to consumers because of a ban imposed on its advertising by the National Drugs and Poisons Schedule Committee (NDPSC). The NDPSC has placed a ban on brand advertising of Xenical direct to consumers, citing a lack of public health benefit, and the fact that the drug was appropriate only for patients who were very overweight and had a serious health problem, or those who were obese.

I'll Just Put a Label on That !

Many of us will have found the very poor results of "Sydney Pharmacists tested for Sales of orlistat" not surprising. My pet hate when it comes to working in Community Pharmacies is hearing the Words ‘‘I’ll just get a label on that" If our own Staff don't understand the Significance of S3 Poisons what hope does anyone else. The handling of this drug may just be the tip of the iceberg with a wider neglect of S3 responsibilities. This represents a huge wasted opportunity for pharmacy in Australia. We talk of pharmacist prescribing like it is a long term aspiration when we may already have it if we handled S3's properly.

I Shot me Down “Bang, Bang”!

Don’t know about you, but I cringed to see the Today Tonight story on the sale of Xenical by Sydney pharmacists to a person obviously not needing the product. Choice has once again had a field day at the profession’s expense, gleefully pointing out how “unprofessional” pharmacists are proving to be. I know all the excuses, there may have been “extenuating circumstances”, it is a very small sample and, finally, the most interesting one “they probably picked the shonkiest pharmacies they could find”! All possibly quite valid at times but 80% of selected pharmacies selling a weight loss product to a fit looking 19 year old with a BMI of 24.8 - give me a break!

The State of Pharmacy ( Denmark)…..Is it all Fair??? (Apologies to William Shakespeare)

I had an interesting discussion with a GP this month, very professional and an informed mutual conversation on QUM, mostly on the safe use of analgesics in patients with persistent pain. Her appreciation to talk with an informed pharmacist was evident and she then went on to mention her child (young person but child to her) who has completed pharmacy but is SO disillusioned by the job. Her comment to me was that she had warned her child in the choice of profession but to no avail as the course was interesting, challenging and promised a great career. I think the conversation probably arose out of our discussion about the HMR facility that GPs are still coming to terms with using for their patients although happily I can report with more enthusiasm than at first.

The “Business” of the PGA

I confess to being a touch taken back by the announcement By the Pharmacy Guild of Australia (PGA) in January, that declared a burgeoning relationship with ScriptPro, one of the big automated dispensing players. Certainly ScriptPro produces a fine range, and are one of the pioneers of automated dispensing. They have established themselves as being inventive, innovative and able to provide a range of solutions, including a range of software. There is a rather large “but” in this though. Why is it that the PGA would/could or should (take your pick) provide what appears to be tacit promotion of an offshore company to get a free run at the market? Should there not be a code of conduct in play here?

Patent Offices are Big, Big Businesses

It was announced on the 24th that the US patent office (USPTO) and IP Australia have agreed to extend a project under which IP Australia provides search and examination services on international patent applications filed with the USPTO under provisions of the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). The agreement is a logical extension of the initiative taken between the two bodies in 2005 and will commence on the 1st March this year.

HealthConnect Mark II?

On the 21st February 2007 the Access Card Consumer And Privacy Taskforce issued a Discussion Paper Number 2. It covers the area of Voluntary Medical and Emergency Information being place in the citizen controlled area of the Access Card. The rationale behind the discussion paper is explained in the introduction. “In his address to the Australian Medical Association (AMA) National Conference on 27 May 2006, the then Minister for Human Services, Hon Joe Hockey MP stated: “Importantly for the medical profession, there will also be space available for cardholders to voluntarily include vital personal information that could be used in medical emergency such as, next of kin, doctor details, allergies, drug alerts, chronic illnesses, organ donor status and childhood immunisation information. This information may save lives.”

On the Risks of Not Focussing on the Customer

The importance of focussing on the customer when operating a retail business is nowhere more apparent than in the current implosion of the Coles Group. The newspapers are full of the consequences, for that company in general and its management in particular, of the inability of Coles to maintain its relevance and its value offer to its (shrinking) customer base. The profit downgrade announced by the Chairman did not surprise many analysts - nor did the ensuing announcement that the business was being pursued (still) by a number of potential buyers. The decision to develop a methodology to ensure shareholder value is maximised in the sale, was really the only option left to management. Having been cornered, the fox is now negotiating with the hounds

The Destructive Duopoly- Where is the ACCC?

Editor's Note: Recently, I visited a new IGA supermarket that had opened in Ballina, a town situated in the Northern Rivers region of NSW, which is near where I live. I happened to pick up a free magazine called "Fightback for Australia" and noted that this represented an attempt to try and stem the bleeding of Australian small to medium enterprises, specifically the independent grocery supermarkets. As I read the magazine it occurred to me that the independent food retailers were having a rather torrid time in trying to stay alive, and that in turn, Australian farmers and producers as well as the local manufacturers, were fast disappearing. Pharmacy often collectively thinks of the supermarket groups as the "enemy" when in fact this term applies to two major Australian businesses - Coles and Woolworths. Sensing an alliance of interests I telephoned the publisher, Mike Rogers, and found that there was a commonality and I asked if there had ever been a formal approach by the independent grocers to the PGA. Mike advised that he had actually telephoned the president of the PGA during the Fourth Agreement negotiations and offered to channel political support on behalf of pharmacists. I was disappointed to learn that the offer was not taken up and that the PGA did not get back to Mike as they had indicated. Little wonder pharmacy is criticised when it is unable to handle a simple PR exercise and make a few friends on the side, apart from being just plain rude! Mike further stated that the independent supermarkets did not want to own pharmacies inside their supermarkets and respected the business model that pharmacy had evolved, and fully understood why pharmacy retail prices had a service component within and could not always be discounted. i2P and Fightback have now agreed to share suitable article material on a regular basis, and I think the perspective offered by the independent supermarkets would be enlightening to pharmacists in business. Despite the fact that the independent supermarkets may also have the odd price differential between themselves and the duopoly, why not encourage your family and staff to shop with an indepentent on a permanent basis. Actively pursued, that type of policy could be reciprocated to the benefit of all small to medium business owners. The independents have much to teach pharmacists in the art of survival and growth in an adverse economic climate.

One In A Million - Get Real!

Editor's Note: Those pharmacists looking to go down the discount road for dispensing should read Barry's comments on commoditising. Those pharmacists wishing to retain a job should read his comment on education. We live in a "brave new world" that is changing so rapidly it is becoming very hard to keep up. An unwanted reality check, perhaps! It well may be that believing oneself to be unique and different is beyond the bounds of reality.Take, for instance, the phrase:- “You are one in a million” In China, that means there are 1,300 of you. For Australia, you and your clones number 20, in Britain something approaching 60 and New Zealand, four. Not quite commoditised human beings, but I do hope you get the point. Being different on this planet of 6 billion people is difficult to achieve and sustain. Even DNA testing cannot eliminate the probability that there is more than one of you. A frightening prospect, to some.

Cairns APSAD Conference 2006 Summary: Day Three - Wednesday 8th November 2006

Editor's Note:Dr Byrne (and his associates) advocate for better policies which are proven to reduce risks for drug users and the general community under a framework in parallel with Australia's official policy of harm minimization. The findings of the New South Wales Drug Summit recommend better access to methadone, detoxification and other dependency treatments. It also advised investigating alternative services such as supervised injecting centres, leading to the opening of the Sydney Medically Supervised Injecting Centre in 2001. Dr Andrew Byrne has been involved in opioid treatments from a primary care background for 20 years at the same site in Redfern, an inner suburb of Sydney. He is recognised worldwide as a specialist in the addiction field and was involved in the seminal stages of the Chapter of Addiction Medicine, Royal Australasian College of Physicians. He received the Dole-Nyswander award from the American Association for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence in April 2006. A range of publications on pertinent strategies for harm-minimisation is available for dowloading at: http://www.redfernclinic.com/publications/ These e-publications may prove to be of practical interest to those pharmacists interested in dependence and addiction . This month we are pleased to publish a new conference report (APSAD Annual Scientific Conference (Day Three). Cairns, Queensland) prepared by Dr Andrew Byrne. Dr Richard Hallinan has also had an interest in addiction medicine for about 20 years. Since joining the practice in 2000 he has published several key papers on subjects including hepatitis C and optimising methadone dose levels. He also has performed studies on hormones, mood disorders and related matters in dependency patients. Dr Hallinan also worked for years as a professional violinist in both Australia and in Austria.

Selected Global Pharmacy Publications

This section of i2P is designed to be an experimental section to introduce other publications that have similarities to i2P, but are based in other countries. The globalisation of Australian pharmacy started around the year 2000. It has had minimal impact up to 2004, but that is now changing and i2P must reflect that change. There are many aspects of globalisation not yet fully understood, but I think that to most of us, globalisation means that we must be quicker on our feet and have pharmacy practices with sufficient critical mass to withstand global pressures. Depending on the model of pharmacy chosen, and its location, global pressures will vary. As pharmacists we must begin to open up our minds to new ideas and innovative ways of delivering pharmacy practice.

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