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Regular updates from the global world of pharmacy.
Access and click on the title links that are illustrated.
ABC FOUR CORNERS MISSES THE MARK
The usually penetrating ABC current affairs program Four Corners failed to hit the mark with its recent expose of the morphine/oxycodone epidemic that is plaguing the major States in Australia. The warning signs were there in the late 1990s and evidenced no more starkly that in the Northern Territory where at one stage the volume of MS Contin 100 mgm tablets dispensed on the PBS was in excess of the entire State of NSW. This sent out alarm bells and the call for the development of a “real time” reporting of dispensing to allow pharmacists to pick up on the “doctor shopping” practices. It seems from the Four Corners program that little has happened and if anything the program on the ABC TV on Monday 27th September, had it looked more closely, would have found that strides have been made in Tasmania and South Australia. The program turned out to be a good lesson in how to do it – forging scripts and all – rather than an expose of what the PBS systems were doing to counter the fraud which is costing the taxpayer through the PBS millions of dollars.
With hundreds of their members now being investigated, chiropractic in the UK is in meltdown. Here in Australia, however, it is easy to find chiropractors who promote the same unproven concepts and the same “bogus” claims that put their overseas counterparts under the spotlight.
When consumers think of chiropractic, they see it as synonymous with back pain, spinal manipulation, bone-cracking and mattresses. However, many chiropractors also claim that it can be used to treat just about every self-limiting and serious health condition as well.
With pharmacy overheads escalating against shrinking margins, pharmacy proprietors must engage in trimming major expenses. One major expense is the pricing of merchandise and processing a customer's purchases.
Most pharmacies employ standard barcodes or use the barcode on an actual product.
However, standard barcodes are being set to be replaced with RFID tags (Radio Frequency IDentification).
We seem to be a precious lot when it comes to the privacy of our medical records.
Our medical privacy is sacrosanct.
Yet there are debates about how patient safety could be improved if more people had access to patient medical records.
This somewhat makes sense when medical records are shared between the hospital and the general practitioner, in case the patient turns up in the emergency department.
There was a bit of joy celebrated in the Victorian town of Colac earlier this month.
On the 4th October 2010 a new pharmacy opened under the stewardship of business partners David Christofidis and Michael Georgy.
Colac is a busy town that once boasted a total of six pharmacies in healthy competition, one with the other.
A process of acquisition was entered into by one of the Healthwise pharmacies, and the total of pharmacies in Colac then became two.
Local residents, over time became dissatisfied with the new arrangement and began a lobbying process for a third pharmacy.
Specifically, they wanted a pharmacy owner who was not a member of a chain group and who was prepared to be competitive on price and service.
John Darley is Warren Professor of Psychology at Princeton University, where he joined the faculty in 1968. Professor Darley is a former president of the American Psychological Society and recipient of numerous national awards, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science Socio-Psychological Essay Prize (with Bibb Latané), the Society of Experimental Social Psychology Distinguished Scientist Award, and the American Psychological Foundation Media Award for Distinguished Contributions in Communicating Psychology to the Public. He is also a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Psychological Society, the American Psychological Association, and the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues. Much of Professor Darley's research has focused decisions and actions that have moral components or implications (e.g., decisions about whether to punish someone for a transgression). Related to this, he is also interested in interpersonal power, how it plays out in social interactions, and how people attempt to manage others with incentive systems.
He is responsible for promoting a self-evident truth that has become known as Darley's Law.
Darley's Law will have an impact on professional integrity and honesty as did Pareto's Principle, which is now a standard for management thinking (eighty percent of the results come from twenty percent of the situations).
In February 2000 Computachem E-Newsletter was launched and that evolved into i2P E-Magazine over the following decade.
At the same time a second publication was launched in March 2000 entitled "Consultant Pharmacist" in expectation that the newly defined role for consultant pharmacists would be taken up by many pharmacists with a clinical bent, and develop into a stimularting and interesting job.
This quickly turned to disappointment when the Pharmacy Guild of Australia hijacked the agenda for consultant pharmacists and tied all services to a community pharmacy.
As the PGA was only interested in structured supply services, development of creative and innovative consultany services were never contemplated.
Subsequently, consultant pharmacist services stagnated and never really got off the ground.
Pharmacy nemesis Roger Corbett is in the news once again as he is about to become a director on the board of HalcyGen Pharmaceuticals.
The small biotech company which has a market capitalisation of $90 million, is seeking shareholder approval for Mr Corbett to be elected as a non-executive director at its annual meeting on November 17, 2010.
HalcyGen bought Mayne Pharma International (MPI) from Hospira Australia in November 2009 for $US15 million. MPI is a pharmaceutical company with an intellectual property portfolio based on the optimisation and delivery of oral drugs.
HalcyGen was listed on the Australian Securities Exchange in 2007 after signing a licence agreement with MPI to access product development and marketing rights for SUBA-Itraconazole, a synthetic broad-spectrum anti-fungal agent.
The HalcyGen chief executive, Roger Aston, said: "It is time now for Halcygen to … build its retail capabilities, an area in which Roger brings tremendous wealth of experience.''
The largest shareholder in HalcyGen is Bruce Mathieson, a friend of Corbett’s. They had met by chance at an earlier date and developed a project that culminated in a liquor/poker machine business between Mathieson and Woolworths, with Woolworths holding a 75% share.
The business partnership has been a bonanza for Woolworths.
Mathieson appears to be moving out of poker machines and may be looking to substitute health investments.
The HalcyGen connection lights up the radar for two reasons – Halcygen’s stated reason for recruiting Corbett “to build its retail capabilities”, and Corbett’s passionate interest in owning community pharmacies through Woolworths.
Corbett’s consultancy contract with Woolworths end in 2011 and Woolworths appear to have lost interest in owning pharmacies since the signing of the Fifth Community Pharmacy Agreement.
Will HalcyGen become the new vehicle for pursuing community pharmacy ownership?
New methods for detecting disease outbreaks earlier have been developed in a collaborative effort between CSIRO and NSW Health.
According to an article published recently in the journal Institute of Industrial Engineers Transactions, the new methodologies may enable health authorities to take action sooner to implement disease outbreak control measures.
Brain shrinkage (atrophy) is accelerated in people experiencing memory issues, including Alzheimer’s Disease.
In that homocysteine is a risk factor for brain atrophy, A. David Smith, from University of Oxford (United Kingdom), and colleagues explored whether Vitamin B supplementation could slow the rate of brain atrophy in people with mild cognitive impairment.
It is widely known that weight gain is due to an imbalance between food intake and energy expenditure, and that exercise is vital for maintaining a healthy weight by burning calories as a result of muscular activity.
But new research from the University of Sydney published in the scientific journal Public Library of Science ONE (PLoS ONE), has found another positive impact of exercise: it can significantly increase cellular metabolism and hence the body's ability to burn calories while at rest.
To stimulate community debate on euthanasia - an issue reignited by the Greens' proposal to reintroduce enabling legislation for the territories - University of Sydney Professor Simon Chapman is making his book on the issue freely available to the public.
The Last Right? Australians Take Sides on the Right to Die, which Professor Chapman edited with his Sydney School of Public Health colleague Professor Stephen Leeder, has been digitised and published online.
The world's rivers - the single largest renewable water resource for humans and a crucible of aquatic biodiversity - are in a crisis of ominous proportions, according to a new global analysis co-authored by a researcher at The University of Western Australia.
The report is published in the journal Nature. It is the first to simultaneously map the effects of pollution, dam building, agricultural runoff, the conversion of wetlands and the introduction of exotic species on the health of the world's rivers, said Professor Peter Davies, Director of UWA's Centre of Excellence in Natural Resource Management.
Victorian results from the 2008 Australian Secondary School Students Alcohol and Drug Survey (ASSAD) show that the closure of the alcopops tax loophole has worked.
The proportion of secondary school students who reported drinking in the week before the survey is at its lowest level since the survey began in 1984.
The University of Alaska Fairbanks will study how the genetics and diet of Yup'ik Eskimos affect the blood-thinning properties of a common drug used by heart and stroke patients.
The research could lead to personalized drug prescriptions. The UAF Center for Alaska Native Health Research will conduct the research as part of a $1.02 million National Institutes of Health sub-award through the University of Washington.
Some of the logistics behind such a major event as the Commonwealth Games are often not highlighted because they don't rate the excitement of a performing top athlete.
Pharmacy is one of the logistical elements needed to sustain athletes, but is always quietly in the background.
However, pharmacist brothers Richard and Phillip Walsh are anything but low profile.
Walsh’s Village Pharmacy in South Maroubra, Sydney, is the official pharmacy of the Australian Commonwealth Games team.
A few polls have been floating around in recent weeks, one of which reported pharmacists as having slipped to sixth position in respect of ethics and honesty(Reader's Digest Poll 2010).
We decided to have a look at the latest rankings, and far from slipping we found that the Roy Morgan poll showed pharmacists increasing their ranking by 1 percentage point in 2010.
However, on a 20 year average, pharmacy has remained constant, neither moving up or down in the ratings.
Since first appearing on the ratings in 1994, nurses have topped the poll with ratings for 2010 compared to 2009 remaining constant. Doctors, on the other hand, moved down the ratings by 3%.
The other poll released recently was the Roy Morgan customer satisfaction poll comparing the major pharmacy franchises.
Chemist Warehouse was declared the winner here.
However, the poll was conducted through already committed customers rather than from a universal sample for all pharmacies.
Given that the franchises collectively would control a substantial market share of pharmacy business some new evaluation of business practices by traditional pharmacy owners is obviously indicated, given that price is a dominant factor in Chemist Warehouse marketing.
A discovery by Walter and Eliza Hall Institute researchers, reported in today’s edition of Science, is set to rewrite a long-held belief about how the body’s immune system establishes its memory.
The findings of Dr Ingela Vikstrom and Associate Professor David Tarlinton, from the institute’s Immunology division, centre on immune cells called B cells that produce the antibodies which fight infection.
The Australian Pharmacy Council (APC) has accredited three leading universities to deliver the
National Alliance for Pharmacy Education’s (NAPE) Pharmacy Intern Training Program (ITP).
The NAPE ITP program is a major and significant new joint initiative by the National Alliance for
Pharmacy Education. Formed earlier this year by Monash University, The University of Queensland,
University of South Australia and The University of Sydney, NAPE aims to support the ongoing
advancement of the pharmacy profession as a key contributor to the healthcare team.
The NAPE ITP offers cutting edge education from universities at the forefront of pharmacy education
and research in Australia. Experienced educators and pharmacists, practicing in a variety of settings,
will assist students on their journey to become competent pharmacists. The program is flexibly
delivered utilising online, face-to-face and self-directed modes of education, allowing interns to easily
access their coursework irrespective of their location and to balance study with their work and personal
In 2008, there were approximately 150,000 mobile-ready websites. In just two years that number has risen to over 3 million, indicating growth faster than the growth of desktop Internet over a similar period.
Over forty percent of the world's top 1,000 websites are now choosing to offer mobile-friendly alternatives. This percentage decreases the further down the rankings you go, down to just under 30% for the top 10,000 websites and 19% overall among all 500,000 sites ranked.Comments: 2
Doctor shopping’ is showing no signs of abating, with the latest Medicare Annual Report revealing the practice has increased by 8% in the last 12 months.
According to the report, more than 26,900 calls were made by doctors to the Prescription Shopping Information Service in 2009-10, an increase of more than 2000 calls on 2008-09 figures.
NSW Health has issued a public health warning following the seizure of over-the-counter and prescription drugs in a police raid on an inner-Sydney hair regrowth clinic.
The Institute of Hair Regrowth and Beauty, 105 Pitt Street, Sydney was raided by police and NSW health officials in late September. Investigations have been continuing since this time and the Managing Director is currently under an order from the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission to not possess or distribute pharmacy-only or prescription medications from the premises to clients.Comments: 2
WORK by scientists at The University of Queensland could open the door to a new way of treating certain breast cancers.
In Australia, it accounted for 28 per cent of all cancer diagnoses in 2006.
By 2015, the number of new breast cancer cases among women in Australia is projected to be 22 percent higher than in 2006, with an estimated 15,409 women expected to be diagnosed with the disease.
Genetic modification of plants has been growing apace and not all the news is good.
Recently, an announcement was made that the first genetically modified animal (salmon) had been developed for aqua-farming and replacement of regular wild salmon.
While this development is a little outside of the regular Pharmedia Reports it is thought that consideration should be given to the health and social implications of the widespread use of GM foods and their regulation.
For example, the regulator in the US, the FDA appears sometimes to serve the needs of global business interests rather than the health and wellbeing of its citizens.
In Australia our regulator, the TGA, is about to undergo an audit process that has been the culmination of many complaints as to how this agency goes about its business.
On another stage again, the European Union is facing a total loss of its traditional herbal medicines base through a new regulatory process, some aspects of which have similar overtones that are gradually developing here in Australia.
European defenders of traditional herbal medicines say that "to best understand how this can be happening, one needs to see that trade laws have been at the center of the moves to place all aspects of food and medicine under the control of Big Pharma and Agribusiness.
If you've followed what's been happening in the United States regarding raw milk and the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA's) claims that foods magically become drugs when health claims are made, you may have noted that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has been part of the process.
Rather than treating food and traditional medicines as human rights issues, they have been treated as trade issues. That makes the desires of large corporations the focus of food and herbal law, rather than the needs and desires of people. It's this twisting that has resulted in the FDA's making outrageously absurd statements, such as claiming that Cheerios and walnuts quite literally become drugs simply because of health claims made for them.
The goal of it all is to make the world safe for the megacorporations to trade freely. The needs and health of the people simply are not a factor in their considerations."
It's complex and worrying and i2P have again asked Mark Coleman to open up a discussion into this issue, because it has, and will increasingly continue to impact on human health.
We have chosen a recent news item regarding GM salmon, because salmon oil is one ot the better known compementary medicines and GM developments in this fish oil production has a definite potential to impact adversely on human health.