s ASMI Media Releases for October 2009 | I2P: Information to Pharmacists - Archive
Publication Date 01/11/2009         Volume. 1 No. 6   
Information to Pharmacists


From the desk of the editor

Welcome to the November edition of i2P – Information to Pharmacists.
The month just finished has been an exceptionally busy one for pharmacy with an interesting PAC being concluded.
The “Great Debate” from PAC stirred considerable interest, also the talk given by John Menadue.
The latter has been reported and commented on in the article “Pharmacy’s Professional Future” and it is recommended that this article be bookmarked.
Better still, add your comment at the foot of the article.
All our columnists are back on deck and we are delighted to report that our New Zealand columnist, John Dunlop, has been accorded high honours by the New Zealand Pharmaceutical Society.
See the article in the Recent News section or look for the editor’s logo in the column section.
Our congratulations go out to John for this honour that resulted from his work in the pharmacy professional services area..

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Recent Comments

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Pharmacy’s Future Professional Services

Neil Johnston

The recent “Great Debate” at the 2009 Pharmacy Australia Congress had an excellent topic choice (“The answer to our future is increasing front of shop sales, not professional services”).
The answer is, of course, that pharmacies need both activities as “core business” to survive – it just depends on what balance is required for each unique pharmacy practice sufficient to allow for differentiation and emphasis on specialties (whether professional services or retail activities).
However, it could be argued that policies in recent years have tipped the balance in favour of supply services that favour retail activity.
Little research or effort has gone into the development of professional services (there is actually major amounts of unspent grant money from the Fourth Agreement), so many pharmacies see little relevance in promoting services they may not have the training for, or the infrastructure to deliver the necessary training (which comes at a cost).

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Servants to the world.

Ken Stafford

Recently I received a number of calls from a concerned relative of one of our veteran clients currently in an aged care facility.
The problems I am hearing about relate to the difficulty in getting the patient’s doctor to write prescriptions for necessary medications, echoing many of the stories I heard during my pharmacy visits about the problem of “owing scripts” and just how hard it is for pharmacists to get them written. If we break down the problem we get this sequence of events:

Comments: 2

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Communicate anywhere and everywhere – is getting nowhere

Pat Gallagher

Is talking about talk the best way to start solving the sharing of data in a health informatics scenario?

I have often written on the subject off interoperability; referring to broken and failed systems and in the attempts to get everyone in healthcare, primarily inside a hospital, to exchange information without re-working it all the time.

This can be a complex subject matter because it has little to do with technology and all to do with people. If various departments and fiefdoms want to share their data it can happen; if they behave in a recalcitrant manner, it won’t happen.

Which takes us down a path, for perhaps another time, regarding the subject of IT systems and collaboration? We Australians are not good at this – there is something in our makeup that resists sharing certain things, notably information management systems. Not sure whether it is a streak of independence or immaturity, or both. Anyway, moving on to the matters at hand, let’s continue.

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Power in Numbers rises up the charts in Pharmacy.

Chris Wright

There is power in numbers.

It is said that Chemist Warehouse is growing at 25/30% per annum, the traditional franchises are growing at about half that rate and the poor old unbranded Pharmacy is trailing behind at about 10%. This really means that Chemist Warehouse is flying along with a wet sail doing nicely and all others are wondering where to find growth or are spending far too much time with their accountants’ trying to work out how to survive the future.
This is no surprise of course; the Chemist Warehouse business model is brilliant, they are compelling marketeers and proof that the power in numbers prevails.

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It's all in the Genes

Staff Writer

When you think about it, genetics are likely to determine your skin type.
It is little wonder that if one or more of your relatives, including your ancestors, had a predisposition to skin cancer, then you may have inherited that trait.
Researchers believe that there is up to a 50 percent risk involved that you will develop skin cancer through genetic inheritance.

Skin cancer can be inherited: studies

Source: Reuters

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Why New Zealand must rapidly halve its greenhouse gas emissions

Staff Writer

Editor: It is good to see the New Zealand medical professionals getting behind climate change strategies in their country.
Pharmacy, particularly here in Australia is conspicuous by its absence in this activity.
Yet there are many things we can influence - particularly in the areas of the supply chain, shop design and the type of fixtures and fittings we select.
Unless we all begin to be proactive in this area, events will pass us by to our detriment.
Add your comments at the foot of this article to start off a discussion.

Source: New Zealand Medical Journal
Article written by: Scott Metcalfe, Alistair Woodward, Alexandra Macmillan, et al; for the New Zealand Climate and Health group


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The Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand 2009 Honours

From the desk of the editor

In Issue number six of Pharmacy e-Edge, the newsletter of the Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand, four New Zealand pharmacists were awarded a range of honours. The report was prepared by Richard Townley, the CEO of the Society. Among them was John Dunlop, our i2P writer representing New Zealand, and we are pleased to share in John's achievement. John was awarded a Fellow of the Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the advancement of the practice of pharmacy in New Zealand. Congratulations John!

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Brits love the NZ version - "Fush 'n Chups"

Staff Writer

In a press release by Dr Allan Bell of Auckland University of Technology (sure to raise eyebrows with some Australian i2P readers), it is stated that:

"The New Zealand accent has been rated the most attractive and prestigious non-British form of English, according to a BBC survey.
New Zealand English came in first ahead of Australian, American and most regional British accents in the study published in the international Journal of Sociolinguistics, edited by Professor Allan Bell, Director of AUT’s Institute of Culture, Discourse and Communication."

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Food as medicine - brown rice benefits diabetic patients

Staff Writer

Choosing your rice variety may provide an inexpensive support for a program to treat diabetes.
Menus involving varieties of brown rice may reduce glycation and the rate at which sugar is absorbed by the body.
Cinnamon is another food known to sensitise insulin and reduce sugar levels.
With a some thought it appears that a variety of foods that combat diabetes could be combined to create dishes that are not only functional, but delicious to eat as well.

Brown rice could aid diabetes control

By Anuradha Alahakoon

Source: SciDev.net

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The Starting Point

Neil Johnston

It was refreshing to read some positive recent announcements, comments and opinions in the media over the past three weeks.

First was the announcement by Nicola Roxon regarding the National Preventive Health Agency and the positioning by the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia firmly in support of this development of her initiative.
It is not quite 12 months ago that i2P ran a story on Nicola Roxon, her family and political background, at a time when she was relatively unknown in health circles.
Some observational and predictive points from that i2P article dated December 2008  -"Have you met Nicola Louise Roxon?" -are shown below.
Go to http://archive.i2p.com.au/?page=site/article&id=1168  for the full article.

"* Nicola appears to be a very normal and stable personality with strong family values, and is direct, straightforward and honest in her professional life.

* Nicola will endeavour to broaden the concept of health from illness treatment to illness prevention. She is well documented in many statements that “prevention is better than cure”.

* Pharmacy will be included within primary health care (something that other professions have tried to restrict), and the role pharmacy already plays in self-care will be recognised. I am sure that funds will be made available for the extension of self-care, work that has always been unpaid work performed by pharmacists.

* Nicola, however, needs to understand exactly what depth pharmacists have provided primary care, almost in a secretive fashion, because of constant harassment by doctors. While there is a surface cooperation between doctors and pharmacists, it is really only lip service.

The removal of this harassment would allow pharmacists to thrive as well as the general public.

* Nicola also needs to understand that while pharmacy owners provide infrastructure to provide medicine distribution, the pressure of this infrastructure works against the development of clinical services.

For this role she needs to recognise pharmacists individually as health practitioners and separate their income from the PBS model.

By providing incentives to individual pharmacist practitioners, development ideas and capital would flow in from these people and pharmacy owners would form beneficial relationships to harness benefit for the supply side of their businesses.

* From the recent address given at the Pharmacy Guild of Australia annual dinner, Nicola said, in part:

“The examples of existing Professional Programs and Services confirm the pharmacist’s role within the primary healthcare team.There may still be some debate about the borders of that role – but the direction is already well and truly established.

I want to be clear here – and I suspect my earlier comments have already given this away – any expanded role for pharmacists will take an incremental approach, and will be dictated by the need for safety and quality in health care.”

In other words, she will do what she has always done – carefully plan and test any program before it becomes policy.

It would seem that we were substantially correct and that the National Health Preventive Agency will offer a great opportunity for pharmacists to take advantage of their current training and skills set.

The second item was contained in a press release by the PSA dated 16/10/09 regarding a Memorandum of Understanding that was signed in Sydney by the President of the PSA, Warwick Plunkett, and the President of the RACGP, Dr Chris Mitchell, at a ceremony during the Pharmacy Australia Congress.

While details of the memorandum still have to be released, it may eventually mean that pharmacists will be able to practice independently and in alliance with GP's without the constant sniping that has been a feature of a relationship, which if worked cooperatively, has always been proven to provide maximum patient benefit. Good work PSA!

The third item of interest was an opinion article written by Geoff Marsh, president of APESMA.
Few comments have originated from APESMA, so it was good to see a comment from this organisation, as is really the voice of non-pharmacy owners, or to put it more succinctly, the logical representative of the pharmacists who provide professional services (whether or not they are paid up members).
The following appeared in Pharmacy e-News on 23/10/09 (located at

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ASMI Media Releases for October 2009

Bob Bowden

articles by this author...

Information and news from the Australian Self Medication Industry provided by Bob Bowden, Foresight Communications. Contact him on (02) 9241 2811 or 0412 753 298.He is supported by Filomena Maiese (ASMI Marketing & Business Development Director) and Michelle Sollitt-Davis (ASMI PR Manager).

The Australian Self-Medication Industry (ASMI) is the peak industry body for the Australian self care industry representing consumer healthcare products including over-the-counter medicines and complementary medicines.

ASMI’s mission is to promote better health through responsible self-care.

This means ensuring that safe and effective self-care products are readily available to all Australians at a reasonable cost.
ASMI works to encourage responsible use by consumers and an increasing role for cost-effective self-medication products as part of the broad national health strategy. www.asmi.com.au

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23 October 2009
Nicola Roxon to engage in self care health debate

Federal Health Minister, Nicola Roxon, will deliver the keynote speech at the Australian Self-Medication Industry’s National Conference, ‘Self Care: How Much Is Your Responsibility?’ in November.

Ms Roxon will be joined by Parliamentary Secretary for Health, Mark Butler, and the Minister for Small Business, Independent Contractors and the Service Economy, and Minister Assisting the Finance Minister on Deregulation, Dr Craig Emerson.

The ASMI National Conference will bring together a range of health experts to discuss how enhanced consumer empowerment can benefit Australia’s health system, and the steps needed to safely and effectively implement self care into the system.

ASMI Executive Director, Juliet Seifert said the National Conference, including Ms Roxon’s address, comes at a critical time in the challenge to reform Australia’s health system.

“Australia is currently witnessing a number of important health inquiries and policy discussions. It is important that at such a critical juncture, the government, industry, consumers and academia work together to deliver the best outcomes for all.

“Self care is an important part of the drive to create a better health system. It involves greater personal responsibility on the part of consumers, leading to improved health outcomes and an easing of pressure on health budgets.

“We look forward to engaging with Ms Roxon and Mr Butler on the challenges of the health system and the implementation of the government’s planned reform agenda, and with Dr Emerson on the drive to create better access to medicines through more effective regulation.” 

Providing a case study for the reduction in red tape in health systems will be senior UK government official, Chris Horsey who will outline the significant changes in the UK health system and the scope for similar steps in Australia.

Mr Horsey is the Head of Better Regulation in the UK Department of Health, the unit responsible for sweeping changes in the country’s health system that have seen increased emphasis on consumer self care, a fresh focus on the role of pharmacy, and reductions in the burden of unnecessary regulation.

“Much of what Australia is currently attempting with its health reform agenda has been advanced in the UK system, and through the presence of Chris Horsey, we will have the chance to hear first-hand how that has been achieved”, said Ms Seifert.

The ASMI Conference will be held on Thursday 12 November at Australian Technology Park, Redfern. It will focus on topics including the emergence of self care and the role of individuals, the evidence base surrounding self care remedies, the regulatory environment for over-the-counter and complementary medicines, and the recent overseas experience in providing wider consumer access to medicines.

19 October 2009
NZ government pseudoephedrine ban not warranted in Australia

The Australian Self-Medication Industry (ASMI), the industry body representing non-prescription consumer healthcare products, today said that calls for a ban on the sale of over-the-counter cold and flu preparations containing pseudoephedrine were unwarranted.

The New Zealand government has imposed a ban on over-the-counter sales of medicines containing pseudoephedrine, in a move which it claims will help address the illicit diversion of these products into the manufacture of methamphetamine.

Under the changes announced by the New Zealand Prime Minister, John Key, pseudoephedrine will be re-scheduled to become prescription only.

The Executive Director of ASMI, Juliet Seifert said there was no reason to be considering any such policy change in Australia.

“ASMI has been working with NSW Police for some months on measures to strengthen the illicit diversion of pseudoephedrine under Project STOP, an initiative helping pharmacists to prevent the use of pseudoephedrine-based products in the manufacture of methamphetamine.

“There has been no indication during these discussions that the situation was out of control, so the latest reported comments come as something of a surprise.

“Pseudoephedrine is an efficacious substance with a very long history of safe use by people with coughs, colds, flu and nasal or sinus congestion. In Australia, there has been a long history of steps adopted by government in partnership with the industry to address the issue of diversion into illegal substances,” Ms Seifert said.

The range of measures includes:

  • The rescheduling in 2002 from S2 to S3 of single-active pseudoephedrine products to ensure the mandatory intervention by a pharmacist in any sales;
  • The rescheduling in 2006 to S3 of small pack sizes and Prescription only of large pack sizes of combination products containing pseudoephedrine;
  • The development by ASMI of a Pseudoephedrine Code of Conduct (authorised by the ACCC) to ensure responsible marketing and promotion of these products by sponsors;
  • The development and rollout by ASMI of an awareness campaign in collaboration with the pharmacy profession to encourage safe storage and stockholding of pseudoephedrine in pharmacies;
  • The development by the Pharmacy Guild of Australia of Project Stop, an electronic monitoring system to track the sales of products containing pseudoephedrine;
  • Active involvement by ASMI, the Pharmacy Guild of Australia and the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia in the National Precursor Working Group.


“These measures have worked well and law enforcement agencies have reported a significant decline in the number of clandestine laboratories using OTC products in the illicit manufacturing of methamphetamine since their introduction,” Ms Seifert said.

ASMI is supporting the mandating of Project STOP in all states and territories to ensure a uniform and consistent approach and to ensure that the problem does not recur.

1 October 2009
UK government health reform agency to advise on faster access to medicines

Measures to slash red tape in the regulation of medicines will be high on the agenda when the UK government official charged with improving the country’s health regulation meets government officials and industry leaders at the Australian Self-Medication Industry (ASMI) national conference in November.

Chris Horsey is the Head of Better Regulation in the UK Department of Health, the unit that is transforming regulation of medicines through what’s known as the Better Regulation of Medicines Initiative (BROMI).

BROMI is a ground-breaking program designed to strip away unnecessary regulatory burdens on medicine that have been incrementally added over four decades.

It is led by the UK regulatory agency for therapeutic products, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and is a collaboration of industry, health professionals and government.

“The outcome has been to deliver new and updated medicines to patients faster, minimise the burden on industry and free up industry and the regulator to focus on innovation and safety,” Chris Horsey said.

The Executive Director of ASMI, Juliet Seifert said the UK experience provides a valuable insight into one way of addressing the red tape burden that can accumulate and end up restricting the public’s access to medicines.

“If some of the lessons from the UK can be picked up in Australia, we will have a better chance of bringing products to market more rapidly and having safe and proven prescription only medicines made available over-the-counter,” Ms Seifert said.

The UK approach applies different regulatory models in different circumstances; the key principle being that the regulatory impact should be proportionate to the risk. This enables the MHRA to better focus its expertise on important public health issues rather than routine administrative work.

The MHRA says, “If we are to make the very best use of the potential offered by pharmacists, we must give them the tools to do the job. That includes completing further reclassifications to complete the range of products in the therapeutic categories available for the treatment of conditions pharmacists have traditionally been involved in.”


The ASMI conference will also hear from the Assistant Minister for Deregulation, Craig Emerson.

The ASMI Conference, with a theme of “Self Care: How Much Is Your Responsibility?” will be held on Thursday 12 November at Australian Technology Park, Redfern. Other speakers and panellists include:

* Carol Bennett, Executive Director, Consumers’ Health Forum of Australia (CHF) * Prof Alan Bensoussan, Executive Director, National Institute of Complementary Medicine (NICM)
* Mario Capanna, Cincotta Chemist
* Simon Corah, CEO, Growth Mantra will host the 2009 ASMI Sales and Marketing Awards
* Li Cunxin, dancer, stockbroker & author of the inspirational autobiography Mao’s Last Dancer - movie due for release in late 2009.
* Bill Curtis, Managing Director, Curtis Jones & Brown as Master of Ceremonies * Odette Gourley, Partner, Corrs Chambers Westgarth
* Dr Tony Hobbs, Chair, National Primary Health Care Strategy External Reference Group
* Prof Stephen Leeder, Director, Menzies Centre for Health Policy (MCHP) 
* Steven Mann, Marketing Director Asia Pacific, sanofi-aventis Consumer Healthcare * Cavan Redmond, President, Wyeth Consumer Healthcare and Animal Health Businesses (USA) 
* Michael Smith, Head of the Office of Complementary Medicines, Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)
* Dr Linda Suydam, President, Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA), ASMI’s US equivalent
* Dr Norman Swan, ABC Radio National’s Health Report

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