s NPS Media Releases for January 2012 | 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

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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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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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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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NPS Media Releases for January 2012

NPS Spokesperson

articles by this author...

Regular information provided by NPS – Better choices, better health - NPS enables people to be medicinewise.

NPS is a valued independent resource for accurate, evidence-based prescribing information and education.
Given the marketing pressures applied by global drug companies, NPS plays a vital and unique role across the healthcare sector.
For more information please contact 
Stephanie Childs on(02) 8217 8667 ,0419 618 365 or schilds@nps.org.au

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23 January 2012


On 1 February 2012 NPS will launch a health professional education program as part of its new five-year campaign addressing the critical issue of antibiotic resistance 

Beginning with a series of educational visits by NPS facilitators, the first year of the campaign will encourage health professionals to adhere more closely to therapeutic guidelines when prescribing antibiotics for respiratory tract infections and to communicate with patients about the dangers of overusing and misusing antibiotics.

NPS clinical adviser Dr Danielle Stowasser says the increasing prevalence of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria have heightened the need for action.

“Health professionals are well aware of the dangers posed by the upsurge in resistant strains of bacteria developing and spreading throughout the Australian community,” says Dr Stowasser.

“Recent studies have calculated the individual risk of carrying antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria after a course of antibiotics. People who carry these resistant strains may find that antibiotics are less effective when they are needed to treat more severe infections in the near future.

“The implications could be catastrophic if we don’t act now to combat the issues contributing to antibiotic resistance in the community and experts have suggested we may return to the pre-antibiotic era.”

As part of the campaign, NPS will release a series of educational resources designed to help facilitate communication between patients and health professionals and provide the most current and relevant information on antibiotic resistance. Resources include NPS publications, a clinical e-audit for GPs, a webinar focusing on the use of diagnostic tests in upper respiratory tract infections, case studies for nurses, practice managers, pharmacists and others, and patient counselling tools.

Dr Stowasser says health professionals have a vital and varied role in helping to fight antibiotic resistance in the community.

“As primary prescribers, the role of GPs is crucial when it comes to combating antibiotic overuse. We know patients with respiratory tract infections often visit their doctor expecting to leave with a script, and GPs may feel pressure to provide one,” says Dr Stowasser. 

“Evidence suggests, however, that patient satisfaction is more likely to be influenced by good communication with their GP than a prescription for an antibiotic. A lot can be done in the practice and in the community itself to promote symptomatic management of viral respiratory tract infections for which antibiotics are not indicated.

“Providing information about the dangers of antibiotic overuse can help change consumer attitudes towards antibiotics and help give patients the confidence to self-manage the symptoms of their respiratory tract infection.”

Pharmacists are also well placed to educate consumers about the safe and effective use of antibiotics.

“Pharmacists can help by encouraging patients to take prescribed antibiotics as directed, because failing to do so can lead to the development of resistant strains of bacteria.” 

In daily interactions with patients, nurses and other health professionals can also initiate conversations about antibiotic resistance, and provide support and reassurance for patients who may not understand the impact of overuse and misuse on individual and public health.

The consumer phase of the NPS antibiotic-resistance campaign will commence in April 2012 and details will be available closer to the date.


16 JANUARY 2012


A study by NPS in collaboration with the University of Melbourne —published today in the Medical Journal of Australia — has provided new insights into how people use medicines on a daily basis and highlights that the use of multiple medicines in older Australians is common and more complex than previously thought. 

The national survey of Australians aged 50 and over found that on the day the snapshot was taken:

*        Medicines were used by the majority of Australians (87% of Australians aged 50 and over used at least one medicine)

*        The use of multiple medicines was common with one third of 50-64 year olds, almost half of 65-74 year olds, and two thirds of people aged 75 and over taking five or more medicines on that day; and

*        Women were more likely overall to be medicine users than men (90.3% versus 83.9%). 

NPS CEO Dr Lynn Weekes says the study’s findings emphasise the importance of the availability of accurate information about medicines, and of health professionals speaking with their patients about the medicines they are taking. 

“For people taking multiple medicines, it’s especially important to keep track of what they are taking and when by using a Medicines List and sharing that information with their health professional,” said Dr Weekes. 

According to the study authors, medicines are increasingly being used to modify health risks, improve wellbeing and prevent future illness rather than to just treat symptoms or disease. 

Antihypertensive agents (for high blood pressure), natural marine and animal products (such as fish oil), and lipid-lowering agents (for high cholesterol) are the most common classes of medicines used. The most commonly taken active ingredients were omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil), paracetamol, aspirin and glucosamine.

The NPS research found that 30% of Australians over 50 took medicines to lower cholesterol on the day the snapshot was taken, while complementary medicines were used by 46.3% of participants — with women the highest users.

“While this trend towards preventative medicines may have a long-term positive impact on health and quality of life, it also highlights the importance of the ongoing promotion of healthy lifestyle changes,” says Dr Marie Pirotta, Associate Professor at the University of Melbourne.

“In particular, many people may be unaware of the risk of side effects or interactions between prescribed medicines and complementary medicines.” 

The study found that doctors recommended 79.3% of all medicines and 93% of conventional medicines, with about one in eight medicines overall first recommended by family, friends or the media. In addition, one in eight medicines purchased by Australians aged 50 and over was purchased from a supermarket, health food store or the internet rather than a pharmacy.

“Family, friends and the media have a big influence over people’s medicine choices, and people are increasingly purchasing medicines outside pharmacies, so it’s more crucial than ever that people speak to their doctor or pharmacist and ask questions about whether a medicine is right for them,” said Dr Weekes. 

“These results also highlight the need for people to be medicinewise and have access to the right information to make better choices and decisions about medicines, especially if people are taking medicines without professional advice.”

To find out how to be medicinewise, visit www.nps.org.au. The NPS Medicines List is available to download online or as a free iPhone app from the from the Apple iTunes store. 

To read the full article on the study, which appears in Issue 1, Volume 196 of the Medical Journal of Australia, visit http://www.mja.com.au/public/issues/196_01_160112/mor10698_fm.html.


10 JANUARY 2012


NPS is inviting academics, health workers and policy makers from the Asia-Pacific region to apply for a scholarship to attend the National Medicines Symposium to be held in Sydney, Australia in May 2012.

Applications for the single scholarship will be accepted from colleagues working in low and middle income countries in the Asian and Western Pacific regions who are active in a research, teaching, practice or policy role to support rational drug use in their country. 

NMS is a biennial event hosted by NPS and the scholarship winner will receive complementary registration to the event and be invited to give an oral presentation of their work as part of a concurrent session.

The winner will also have the opportunity to attend the Asia Pacific Conference on National Medicines Policies, which follows NMS 2012 and will also be held in Sydney in May 2012. This conference is being run collaboratively by NPS, the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing, the University of Newcastle and the World Health Organization.

NPS CEO Dr Lynn Weekes says the scholarship provides opportunities to identify similarities and differences in quality use of medicines issues affecting Asia-Pacific and Australia.

“The theme for NMS 2012 is Building a medicinewise community and through offering this scholarship we hope to build cross-country partnerships that funnel into a quality use of medicines alumni lasting well into the future,” says Dr Weekes.

“The competitive scholarship is a fantastic opportunity for somebody with an interest in quality use of medicines to share their experiences and learning amongst their peers and develop their leadership potential.”

The scholarship recipient will receive complimentary registration to NMS 2012 and the Asia Pacific Conference on National Medicines Policies and up to $5000 (AUD) to cover travel, accommodation and expenses.

For more information on the general eligibility requirements, a full list of eligible countries and criteria to address in the application, visit http://www.nps.org.au/topics/nms/qum_scholarship.

Applications should be sent directly to qumscholarship@nps.org.au

Applications close 17 February 2012 and the scholarship winner will be announced by 9 March 2012.

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