s Magnetic Attraction | I2P: Information to Pharmacists - Archive
Publication Date 01/11/2009         Volume. 1 No. 6   
Information to Pharmacists

Editorial

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
http://www.reuters.com/article/healthNews/idUSTRE5984VM20091010?feedType=RSS&feedName=healthNews

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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

http://www.nzma.org.nz/journal/abstract.php?id=3827

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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
http://static.rbi.com.au/common/contentmanagement/pharmnews/PDFNOAD/20091023.pdf

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Magnetic Attraction

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

“The underlays they sell in the pharmacies don’t work” he whispered, “half their magnets face the wrong way. You know they only work if you sleep on magnets facing south”.
I was intrigued.
His little stall was situated in the centre section in the busy corridor of my local shopping mall and there he stood, day after day, surrounded by all sorts of interesting magnetic products.
Crammed on his tabletop were a wide range of magnetic jewellery, underlays for both people and pets and stacks of neatly packaged supports for a selection of joints.
So does it work or is it all in your mind?
This month I’m going to talk about magnetic therapy.

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Three years at Uni studying Physics and Mathematics keeps me interested in anything electromagnetic that makes health claims. From the first time I heard about them I wondered if magnets did help with joint pain. As the promotion of them continued to increase, I surfed the net, checked out the strength of the magnets advertised and by applying a bit of mathematics, I calculated that the field was essentially zero a few centimetres away from their surface. You see, a magnetic field is a bit like the heat from a candle. You will burn your finger if you put it on or in the flame, but a small distance away from it you will find that the heat has dissipated and your brave digit is safe.

Armed with my own ‘evidence’, in the form of a series of calculations, I decided to expose the fraud. However, I soon found that people looked at me strangely as they just don’t trust mathematics. Instead, they like bathroom scales, thermometers and measuring cups, so defeated with my efforts, I surfed the net again. A few weeks and several hundred dollars later, a little portable Gauss Meter, a device that measures direct current magnetic fields, arrived in my mailbox. By the time my new toy arrived, I had collected several hundred magnets, (which cost about 2c each) and a few second-hand underlays. Within minutes of turning on the little gizmo, I realised my conclusions were confirmed.

With all the cancer medication scripts I get filled, the staff in my local pharmacy know me well. When I told them that I was checking out magnetic therapy, they let me measure the strength of the magnets in one of their underlays. One by one I measured and documented each of the 256 magnets and I soon realized that despite the specifications on the packaging, which claimed that they were 1000 Gauss, even while still on the shelf, most of their magnets had already lost up to 50% of their strength. While handling the underlay I could see why low strength magnets were used because they are attracted to each other and like to stick together so it would be difficult to unfold one let alone keep it flat on your bed if stronger magnets were used.

The magnetic jewellery test also fared badly. Not only were the magnets really weak (about 60 Gauss), the concept that a necklace or bracelet (which had less magnetism than a typical 700 Gauss fridge magnet) could help with joint pain, when the dodgy joint is nowhere near the magnetic field, makes no sense.

As for the elasticised joint supports, at least the magnets can be placed near the troublesome joint. The downside is that you tend to stick to steel objects and you might find a stainless table following you around. While the underlays and jewellery can be discounted because they provide zero magnetic field where it counts, I can’t comment on these except to say that I am sure that wrapping a joint and keeping it warm does help (with or without magnets). If there is effective pain relief one can only ask why some of the billions of dollars profit from the sale of magnetic health products or the millions raked in to Treasuries all over the world, found its way to a few clinical trials?

Magnetic healing has been around since before Cleopatra’s time, and it’s another one of those therapies that gets recycled every few generations or so. Now backed by high profile sporting and television personalities, a new wave of magnetic pain relief products has emerged and they continue to be big business. With convincing claims for natural pain relief and impressive testimonials, Seniors, in particular, are parting with their hard earned cash in the hope of a good night sleep.

My advice to people is to “pop on a fridge magnetic and see if it works” before parting with your cash. After I demonstrated to one pharmacist the readings his response was “my customers aren’t complaining” but is that any reason to keep selling them?

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