s Are Blackmores blatantly behaving like blaggards? | I2P: Information to Pharmacists - Archive
Publication Date 01/07/2014         Volume. 6 No. 6   
Information to Pharmacists


From the desk of the editor

Welcome to the July 2014 homepage edition of i2P (Information to Pharmacists) E-Magazine.
At the commencement of 2014 i2P focused on the need for the entire profession of pharmacy and its associated industry supports to undergo a renewal and regeneration.
We are now half-way through this year and it is quite apparent that pharmacy leaders do not yet have a cohesive and clear sense of direction.
Maybe the new initiative by Woolworths to deliver clinical service through young pharmacists and nurses may sharpen their focus.
If not, community pharmacy can look forward to losing a substantial and profitable market share of the clinical services market.
Who would you blame when that happens?
But I have to admit there is some effort, even though the results are but meagre.
In this edition of i2P we focus on the need for research about community pharmacy, the lack of activity from practicing pharmacists and when some research is delivered, a disconnect appears in its interpretation and implementation.

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News Flash

Newsflash Updates for July 2014

Newsflash Updates

Regular weekly updates that supplement the regular monthly homepage edition of i2P. 
Access and click on the title links that are illustrated

Comments: 1

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Feature Contribution

Woolworths Pharmacy - Getting One Stage Closer

Neil Johnston

It started with “tablet” computers deployed on shelves inside the retailer Coles, specifically to provide information to consumers relating to pain management and the sale of strong analgesics.
This development was reported in i2P under the title Coles Pharmacy Expansion and the Arid PGA Landscape”
In that article we reported that qualified information was a missing link that had come out of Coles market research as the reason to why it had not succeeded in dominating the pain market.
Of course, Woolworths was working on the same problem at the same time and had come up with a better solution - real people with good information.

Comments: 5

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Intensive Exposition without crossing over with a supermarket

Fiona Sartoretto Verna AIAPP

Editor's Note: The understanding of a pharmacy's presentation through the research that goes into the design of fixtures and fittings that highlight displays, is a never-ending component of pharmacy marketing.
Over the past decade, Australian pharmacy shop presentations have fallen behind in standards of excellence.
It does not take rocket science - you just have to open your eyes.
Recently, our two major supermarkets, Woolworths and Coles, have entered into the field of drug and condition information provision - right into the heartland of Australian Pharmacy.

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The sure way to drive business away

Gerald Quigley

I attended the Pregnancy, Baby and Children’s Expo in Brisbane recently.
What an eye and ear opening event that was!
Young Mums, mature Mums, partners of all ages, grandparents and friends……...many asking about health issues and seeking reassurances that they were doing the right thing.

Comments: 1

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‘Marketing Based Medicine’ – how bad is it?

Baz Bardoe

It should be the scandal of the century.
It potentially affects the health of almost everyone.
Healthcare providers and consumers alike should be up in arms. But apart from coverage in a few credible news sources the problem of ‘Marketing Based Medicine,’ as psychiatrist Dr Peter Parry terms it, hasn’t as yet generated the kind of universal outrage one might expect.

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Community Pharmacy Research - Are You Involved?

Mark Coleman

Government funding is always scarce and restricted.
If you are ever going to be a recipient of government funds you will need to fortify any application with evidence.
From a government perspective, this minimises risk.
I must admit that while I see evidence of research projects being managed by the PGA, I rarely see community pharmacists individually and actively engaged in the type of research that would further their own aims and objectives (and survival).

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Organisational Amnesia and the Lack of a Curator Inhibits Cultural Progress

Neil Johnston

Most of us leave a tremendous impact on pharmacies we work for (as proprietors, managers, contractors or employees)—in ways we’re not even aware of.
But organisational memories are often all too short, and without a central way to record that impact and capture the knowledge and individual contributions, they become lost to time.
It is ironic that technology has provided us with phenomenal tools for communication and connection, but much of it has also sped up our work lives and made knowledge and memory at work much more ephemeral.

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Academics on the payroll: the advertising you don't see

Staff Writer

This article was first published in The Conversation and was written by Wendy Lipworth, University of Sydney and Ian Kerridge, University of Sydney
In the endless drive to get people’s attention, advertising is going ‘native’, creeping in to places formerly reserved for editorial content. In this Native Advertising series we find out what it looks like, if readers can tell the difference, and more importantly, whether they care.
i2P has republished the article as it supports our own independent and ongoing investigations on how drug companies are involved in marketing-based medicine rather than evidence-based medicine.

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I’ve been thinking about admitting wrong.

Mark Neuenschwander

Editor's Note: This is an early article by Mark Neuenschwander we have republished after the soul-searching surrounding a recent Australian dispensing error involving methotrexate.
Hmm. There’s more than one way you could take that, huh? Like Someday when I get around to it (I’m not sure) I may admit that I was wrong about something. Actually, I’ve been thinking about the concept of admitting wrong. So don’t get your hopes up. No juicy confessions this month except that I wish it were easier for me to admit when I have been wrong or made a mistake.
Brian Goldman, an ER physician from Toronto, is host of the award-winning White Coat, Black Art on CBC Radio and slated to deliver the keynote at The unSUMMIT for Bedside Barcoding in Anaheim this May. His TED lecture, entitled, “Doctors make mistakes. Can we talk about it?” had already been viewed by 386,072 others before I watched it last week.

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Dispensing errors – a ripple effect of damage

Kay Dunkley - BPharm, Grad Dip Hosp Pharm, Grad Dip Health Admin, MPS, MSHPA

Most readers will be aware of recent publicity relating to dispensing errors and in particular to deaths caused by methotrexate being incorrectly packed in dose administration aids.
The Pharmacy Board of Australia (PBA), in its Communique of 13 June 2014, described a methotrexate packing error leading to the death of a patient and noted “extra vigilance is required to be exercised by pharmacists with these drugs”.
This same case was reported by A Current Affair (ACA) in its program on Friday 20 June

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Take a vacation from your vocation

Harvey Mackay

Have you ever had one of those days when all you could think was, “Gosh, do I need a vacation.”
Of course you have – because all work and no play aren’t good for anyone.
A vacation doesn’t have to be two weeks on a tropical island, or even a long weekend at the beach. 
A vacation just means taking a break from your everyday activities. 
A change of pace. 
It doesn’t matter where.
Everyone needs a vacation to rejuvenate mentally and physically. 
But did you also know that you can help boost our economy by taking some days off? 
Call it your personal stimulus package.

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Explainer: what is peer review?

Staff Writer

This article was first published in the Conversation. It caught our eye because "peer review" it is one of the standards for evidence-based medicines that has also been corrupted by global pharma.
The article is republished by i2P as part of its ongoing investigation into scientific fraud and was writtenby Andre Spicer, City University London and Thomas Roulet, University of Oxford
We’ve all heard the phrase “peer review” as giving credence to research and scholarly papers, but what does it actually mean?
How does it work?
Peer review is one of the gold standards of science. It’s a process where scientists (“peers”) evaluate the quality of other scientists' work. By doing this, they aim to ensure the work is rigorous, coherent, uses past research and adds to what we already knew.
Most scientific journals, conferences and grant applications have some sort of peer review system. In most cases it is “double blind” peer review. This means evaluators do not know the author(s), and the author(s) do not know the identity of the evaluators.
The intention behind this system is to ensure evaluation is not biased.
The more prestigious the journal, conference, or grant, the more demanding will be the review process, and the more likely the rejection. This prestige is why these papers tend to be more read and more cited.

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Dentists from the dark side?

Loretta Marron OAM BSc

While dining out with an elderly friend, I noticed that he kept his false tooth plate in his shirt pocket. He had recently had seven amalgam-filled teeth removed, because he believed that their toxins were making him sick; but his new plate was uncomfortable. He had been treated by an 'holistic dentist'. Claiming to offer a "safe and healthier alternative" to conventional dentistry, are they committed to our overall health and wellbeing or are they promoting unjustified fear, unnecessarily extracting teeth and wasting our money?

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Planning for Profit in 2015 – Your key to Business Success

Chris Foster

We are now entering a new financial year and it’s a great time to reflect on last year and highlight those things that went well and those that may have impacted negatively in the pursuit of your goals.
It's also a great to spend some time re-evaluating your personal and business short, medium and long term goals in the light of events over the last year.
The achievement of your goals will in many cases be dependent on setting and aspiring to specific financial targets. It's important that recognise that many of your personal goals will require you to generate sufficient business profits to fund those aspirations

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ReWalk™ Personal Exoskeleton System Cleared by FDA for Home Use

Staff Writer

Exoskeleton leader ReWalk Robotics announced today that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has cleared the company’s ReWalk Personal System for use at home and in the community.
ReWalk is a wearable robotic exoskeleton that provides powered hip and knee motion to enable individuals with Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) to stand upright and walk.
ReWalk, the only exoskeleton with FDA clearance via clinical studies and extensive performance testing for personal use, is now available throughout the United States.

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Attracting and Retaining Great People

Barry Urquhart

Welcome to the new financial year in Australia.
For many in business the past year has been described as a challenging period.
Adjectives are a key feature of the English language.  In the business lexicon their use can be, and often is evocative and stimulate creative images.  But they can also contribute to inexact, emotional perceptions.
Throughout the financial pages of newspapers and business magazines adjectives abound.
References to “hot” money draw attention and comment.  The recent wave of funds from Chinese investors, keen to remove their wealth from the jurisdiction and control of government regulations is creating a potential property bubble in Australia.

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Updating Your Values - Extending Your Culture

Neil Johnston

Pharmacy culture is dormant.
Being comprised of values, unless each value is continually addressed, updated or deleted, entire organisations can stagnate (or entire professions such as the pharmacy profession).
Good values offer a strong sense of security, knowing that if you operate within the boundaries of your values, you will succeed in your endeavours.

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Evidence-based medicine is broken. Why we need data and technology to fix it

Staff Writer

The following article is reprinted from The Conversation and forms up part of our library collection on evidence-based medicines.
At i2P we also believe that the current model of evidence is so fractured it will never be able to be repaired.
All that can happen is that health professionals should independently test and verify through their own investigations what evidence exists to prescribe a medicine of any potency.
Health professionals that have patients (such as pharmacists) are ideally placed to observe and record the efficacy for medicines.
All else should confine their criticisms to their evidence of the actual evidence published.
If there are holes in it then share that evidence with the rest of the world.
Otherwise, do not be in such a hurry to criticise professions that have good experience and judgement to make a good choice on behalf of their patients, simply because good evidence has not caught up with reality.

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Laropiprant is the Bad One; Niacin is/was/will always be the Good One

Staff Writer

Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, July 25, 2014
Laropiprant is the Bad One; Niacin is/was/will always be the Good One
by W. Todd Penberthy, PhD

(OMNS July 25, 2014) Niacin has been used for over 60 years in tens of thousands of patients with tremendously favorable therapeutic benefit (Carlson 2005).
In the first-person NY Times best seller, "8 Weeks to a Cure for Cholesterol," the author describes his journey from being a walking heart attack time bomb to a becoming a healthy individual.
He hails high-dose niacin as the one treatment that did more to correct his poor lipid profile than any other (Kowalski 2001).

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Culture Drive & Pharmacy Renewal

Neil Johnston

Deep within all of us we have a core set of values and beliefs that create the standards of behaviour that we align with when we set a particular direction in life.
Directions may change many times over a lifetime, but with life experiences and maturity values may increase in number or gain greater depth.
All of this is embraced under one word – “culture”.
When a business is born it will only develop if it has a sound culture, and the values that comprise that culture are initially inherent in the business founder.
A sound business culture equates to a successful business and that success is often expressed in the term “goodwill” which can be eventually translated to a dollar value.

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open full screen

ReWalk™ Personal Exoskeleton System Cleared by FDA for Home Use

Staff Writer

Exoskeleton leader ReWalk Robotics announced today that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has cleared the company’s ReWalk Personal System for use at home and in the community.
ReWalk is a wearable robotic exoskeleton that provides powered hip and knee motion to enable individuals with Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) to stand upright and walk.
ReWalk, the only exoskeleton with FDA clearance via clinical studies and extensive performance testing for personal use, is now available throughout the United States.

read more
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Pharmacy 2014 - Pharmacy Management Conference

Neil Johnston

The brave new world of health and wellness is not the enemy of Pharmacy, it is its champion.
Australian futurist, Morris Miselowski, one of the world's leading business visionaries, will present the Opening Keynote address on Pharmacy's Future in the new Health and Wellness Landscape at 2.00pm on Wednesday July 30.
Morris believes the key to better health care could already be in your pocket, with doctors soon set to prescribe iPhone apps, instead of pills.
Technology will revolutionise the health industry - a paradigm shift from healthcare to personal wellness.
Health and wellness applications on smartphones are already big news, and are dramatically changing the way we manage our personal health and everyday wellness.

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Generation and Application of Community Pharmacy Research

Neil Johnston

Editor’s Note: We have had a number of articles in this issue relating to pharmacy research.
The PGA has conducted a number of research initiatives over the years, including one recently reported in Pharmacy News that resulted from an analysis of the QCPP Patient Questionnaire.
Pharmacy Guild president, George Tambassis, appears to have authored the article following, and there also appears to be a disconnect between the survey report and its target audience illustrated by one of the respondent comments published.
I have asked Mark Coleman to follow through, elaborate and comment:

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Are Blackmores blatantly behaving like blaggards?

Loretta Marron OAM BSc

articles by this author...

From a Skeptics Perspective: Loretta Marron, a science graduate with a business background, was Australian Skeptic of the Year for 2007 and in 2011. She is the Chief Executive Officer of the Friends of Science in Medicine and that organisation won Australian Skeptic of the Year for 2012. On Australia Day 2014 she was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM ) for "service to community health"  Loretta edits the websites www.healthinformation.com.au & www.scienceinmedicine.org.au

Some complementary medicines (CM)'s have clinically proven benefits and I will freely admit that I don't mind experimenting with the occasional natural product. 
So when asked what brands I would buy I have been known to mention Blackmores. 
But that's all changed now, after what appears to be an act of treachery, they will never deserve my support again.

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In 2008, I was invited to be part of a team that spent six months investigating worldwide CM resources to identify a short list that health professionals and consumers could refer to " with confidence". 
One of the databases selected was the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database
, a subscription website  used by over 100,000 Australians. 
It even lists some of Blackmores products. 
When my friends want to try a new remedy, I look up their relevant monograph and send it to them so at least I know that they are "making informed choices".

The active ingredients in plants vary from their leaves, bark, seeds, flowers, roots, stems and fruit. 
It varies on where the plant is grown, the time of year it is grown and the species of plant. 
This means that two different brands of the same CM may be considerably different. 
If you buy the herb from China you may not even be getting the right ingredients and it could even be laced with a
prescription drug,  faecal matter or pesticide. 

It's a case of buyer beware. 

Blackmores have over 350 products listed with the Therapeutic Goods Administration. 
On the positive side they do not appear to promote homeopathic remedies. 
When a CM is found to be harmful,  such as Hawthorn and Black Cohosh, it even seems to disappear from their range. 
On the other hand, if a CM is found to be useless, but may not be harmful, it continues to be sold. 

So even if a product is a placebo or has insufficient research, provided it may not be dangerous, it is important to me that people at least know this and that they get what they pay for.

As one of the five founding members of the 'Friends of Science in Medicine' (FSM), following a Sydney Morning Herald's article about us, I was watching their associated poll "Should universities teach alternative medicine?"   

After four days, the Poll was ticking along slowly and the "No" votes were running at 84%.

Being on the email list of CM organisations has the advantage of keeping me informed as to what is happening with herbal research.  You can imagine my surprise when I received a personal email, from what appeared to be from Blackmores that asked:

 "are you passionate about complementary medicine education? 
Support university education in complementary medicine.  
The Sydney Morning Herald is currently running an online poll on whether or not natural medicine should be taught in universities.
If you are passionate about Complementary Medicine, can you please take a minute and vote YES today."

I then received another personal email from what appeared to be from Justin Howden the Political and Consumer Affairs Director of the Complementary Healthcare Council of Australia!

This one was far worse.

It stated:

"I think we need to send this viral and we have til tomorrow.
I have sent to the Board and they are onto it, and the Marketing and Communications Committee also.  We need to fight fire with fire.......ie get viral and please send to all staff/colleagues and ask them to vote (hopefully yes) asap.

The smaller the gap we can engineer the less fuel for the "Friends of Science in Medicine". 
Happy to discuss but time is of the essence, anyone we can forward this to we should!!"

I noticed that the morning after these emails went out that the votes dropped from 84% to 54%.

The evidence that these emails did in fact come from the stated sources was borne out by an article published in the Sydney Morning Herald in which the journalist had researched the origins of them and declared them to be legitimate.

This article pursued the topic of poll manipulation with some vigour, and it is worth reading to see what lengths those who insist that they follow "scientific and evidence-based methodology" will go to distort the truth when it suits them.

I searched the internet to find that vote gaming was apparently being conducted by Reflexology Australia,  the  National Institute of Integrative Medicine and the anti-vaccination website, and the AVN.

The National Herbalist Association website were also spreading misinformation and stated:

"A significant number of researchers and Doctors are pulling out of FSM as they feel they were 'hoodwinked' and weren't aware of the full picture.  It is anticipated that even more members will withdraw in the next few weeks."

That was news to me.  
As the CEO of FSM I can categorically declare that, during the poll, the numbers of FSM supporters continued to steadily climb as we headed for our 500th supporter.

The FSM has a vision statement:

"to reverse the current trend which sees government funded tertiary institutions offer courses in health care science that are not based on scientific principles or supported by scientific evidence".

We are not trying to stop public access to alternative therapies provided that the public is fully informed about the lack of, or minimal evidence for, safety and efficacy of these alleged treatments and we are in favour of discussing the place of alternative therapies, their placebo effect and the testing of these therapies in well-designed trials.

There is an overwhelming amount of paranoid scaremongering that the FSM hates all CM's and is banning its research, whereas we are more about challenging the teaching of alternative belief systems as if they were evidence-based, and the pretence that pseudoscience is actually science and has followed its well understood methodology.
Many of these spurious treatments could legitimately be placed in theology, but are positioned under the umbrella of health. 
Change the discipline to put them under religion and we have no complaints.

It begs the question as to why all these organisations are trying to undermine what we are trying to achieve.
Could it be that they know that many of their therapies or CM's don't work? 
It would seem so!

Return to home

Submitted by setve jenkin on Wed, 11/07/2012 - 16:23.

Marron is considerably less than honest in her reporting of the gaming of the Poll.
The SMH felt moved to write an article on this: it was highly unusual and, for them, highly disturbing behaviour. But Marron makes no mention of this.

She withheld the two most important facts, for me, from the SMH artilce:

1. "The end result was 70 per cent no, 30 per cent yes."
[ie. the crude attempt from Blackmoore et al was unsuccessful]

2. "The number of votes in the poll was about eight times more than the number of online readers of the story, a clear indicator that the poll had been gamed.
Fairfax technical staff said the poll logs all but confirmed that the voting had been manipulated."

==> After she saw a successful but unsophisticated attack on the "NO" vote, 'magically" the situation was reversed with poll gaming that was sophisticated enough that the SMH techs couldn't identify the source in their logs, unlike the simplistic "YES" votes from Blackmoore's et al.

Marron is a self-confessed technical wiz as are a number of her fellows from Australian Skeptics Inc. We've no way of knowing if any of them took part in this sophisticated "poll gaming", but we absolutely know that the poll was gamed for both "Yes" and "No" votes and Blackmoore's et al "Yes" vote was relatively crude and traceable.

I find it more than disingenuous that Marron doesn't comment on the final outcome of the poll or that supporters of the FoSiM position were far more "evil" in their approach, probably illegal hacking if done programatically.

Again Marron doesn't mention that FoSiM's Founder, John Dwyer, was approached by the SMH to comment on the poll and it being gamed...

Dwyer was appalled and surprised.

But not Ms Marron, despite her obvious technical knowledge and proficiency.

Does this mean she didn't read the full SMH article, didn't notice they'd won, didn't understand the import of the whole article and its various questions, didn't think it was very strange of "her team" suddenly and untraceably surged ahead, simply ignored inconvenient statements and questions or did she know much, much more about this illegal hacking?

All we know if that she ignored what I regard as the most important, pertinent facts of the story that carry very serious implications of amorality and illegal actions.

If I'd been on the "NO" side and noticed the opposition were gaming the poll - and had the interest, tools and lack of morals to do some sophisticated hacking - I'd have manipulated the result to be "just a win", NOT the better than 2:1 landslide it finished at...

An even more convincing outcome would've been to NOT game the poll with illegal hacking, just bring the crude attempts from Blackmoore's to the attention of the SMH, suggest they write their article on poll gaming, identify the culprits (as was done) AND to remove all the suspect votes and republish the poll with a credible win for "NO'.

==> that approach would've been wholly legal and produced two wins, one on the corrected poll plus a moral victory against Blackmoore's et al.

I can't believe that anyone without a very strong interest in the topic, which is FoSiM vs Everyone Else, could be bothered or motivated to game a poll in this way.

How could the large-scale, untracable "NO" vote be anything _other_ than the work of FoSiM 'Friends'?? I can't see why anyone else would undertake such alarming illegal hacking, but then, I don't claim omniscience and would love to understand this.

It would also explain why Marron ONLY mention one this side of the affair, but so would many other things like bigotry, bias and "spin doctoring".

None of which bring Marron or her little "Friends" any credit.

I find what she's purposefully omitted from this article to be damning. Or was that just incompetence?

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