s NPS Media Releases for June 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.

read more
open full screen

Recent Comments

Click here to read...

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

read more
open full screen

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

read more
open full screen

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.

read more
open full screen

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

read more
open full screen

‘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.

read more
open full screen

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).

read more
open full screen

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.

read more
open full screen

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.

read more
open full screen

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.

read more
open full screen

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

read more
open full screen

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.

read more
open full screen

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.

read more
open full screen

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?

read more
open full screen

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

read more
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
open full screen

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.

read more
open full screen

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.

read more
open full screen

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.

read more
open full screen

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).

read more
open full screen

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.

read more
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
open full screen

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.

read more
open full screen

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:

read more
open full screen

NPS Media Releases for June 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 or 0419 618 365 or schilds@nps.org.au

open this article full screen

26 JUNE 2012 


GPs and GP registrars can now enrol in the latest NPS clinical audit on the topic of depression. Depression: challenges in primary care focuses on the diagnostic and management challenges of treating patients with a depressive disorder.

NPS clinical adviser Dr Philippa Binns says that depression is the second most commonly managed chronic problem seen by Australian GPs and it is essential they feel confident in diagnosing and managing patients with this condition.

“The NPS clinical audit provides a structure for GPs to review their management of patients diagnosed with a depressive disorder and taking an antidepressant,” says Dr Binns.

“The activity places an emphasis on confirming the diagnosis and severity of the condition, and then tailoring the treatment options for an individual’s needs and preferences. The NPS clinical audit helps to guide management, including review, monitoring and adjusting treatment.”

Current guidelines endorse non-drug therapies first line for mild depression and in combination with antidepressants for moderate-to-severe depression. There is no convincing evidence that patients with minor depression will benefit from antidepressant therapy.

Depression: challenges in primary care also highlights the need to discuss concerns and establish expectations with patients and/or carers about antidepressant use.

“Patients who are actively involved in the management of their depression and who know what to expect from both drug and non-drug therapy are more likely to adhere to their treatment,” says Dr Binns.

“Investing time discussing issues of most concern to the patient and addressing their questions can help patients with depression achieve recovery.”

Enrolments are now open and initial patient data needs to be submitted by 19 October 2012. To enrol visit www.nps.org.au/depression-enrol

This clinical audit has been approved by the RACGP Quality Improvement & Continuing Professional Development Program for 40 (category 1) points and as a special interest Mental Health CPD activity. It is also approved by the ACRRM Professional Development Program for 30 PRPD Points. This audit is recognised for the Quality Prescribing Initiative of the Practice Incentives Program (May 2012 to April 2013).

To view other clinical audits available from NPS visit www.nps.org.au/clinical_audit 


21 JUNE 2012


Headaches are a common condition with around half of all Australians suffering a headache each year. Difficulties with diagnosing the types and causes of headaches can result in unnecessary ordering of CT scans. To help doctors navigate this area, NPS has launched a new therapeutic program on the topic.

The program, Headaches: Safe diagnosis, effective management looks at the importance of a comprehensive history and targeted physical examination in accurately diagnosing headache. It provides information about managing and preventing headache and considers risks and costs associated with neuroimaging and when this might be needed.

NPS clinical adviser Dr Philippa Binns says that headache is common and there are many types and causes. The main challenge for doctors is getting the diagnosis right.

“One thing that is clear is the cause of most headaches is benign. It is important to allay patient fears by reassuring them that serious causes are rare,” says Dr Binns.

To help with the right diagnosis, it is useful for people to use a headache diary for about four to six weeks where they record details such as frequency of headache, severity, suspected triggers and medicines use.

NPS suggests that clinicians determine a person’s headache type by taking a detailed history and performing a physical examination including a targeted neurological examination. This will initially help to distinguish primary headaches (those which occur for no obvious reason, not the result of underlying disease) from the less common secondary headaches.

The program also advocates that neuroimaging is not needed for people with normal neurological examination and no ‘red flags’.

“Neuroimaging is unlikely to show the cause of a primary headache and can cause more harm than good in some cases. For example, incidental findings and apparent abnormalities which turn out to be benign can cause patient anxiety and clinician uncertainty, which may lead to further unnecessary investigations and treatment,” says Dr Binns.

The program also considers the risks and costs of neuroimaging.

“Neuroimaging poses risks to the patient of exposure to ionising radiation. Although individual risk is small and radiation doses vary depending on the source, there is no ‘safe’ dose of radiation and all doses contribute to lifetime risk.

“Financial costs of imaging, risks of incorrect interpretation of results and logistical impacts on patients should also be considered by clinicians and discussed with patients if an imaging scan is indicated.”

For more information on headaches and to access relevant resources for health professionals, visit nps.org.au/conditions/headache

20 JUNE 2012


Do you struggle to take your antibiotics correctly? NPS has launched a new free app for iPhone and iPad designed to help people take their antibiotics correctly and prevent antibiotic resistance.

 The new ‘Antibiotics Reminder’ app allows you to set reminders for each dose of antibiotics, track whether doses are taken correctly and record progress in a daily recovery diary.

Released as part of a broader campaign to fight antibiotic resistance in the Australian community, NPS clinical adviser Dr Danielle Stowasser says the new app will help people be more medicinewise when it comes to their antibiotics.

“Taking antibiotics correctly is important both for the health of the individual and the health of the community,” says Dr Stowasser.

“If you are prescribed antibiotics, take them exactly as directed by your health professional, even if you are feeling better. If you have a bacterial infection and you miss a dose you may not have the right amount of antibiotic in your body to kill the bacteria causing your infection. This could mean that you have the infection for longer and can also increase the chance of passing your infection onto others.

“If you don’t take your antibiotics exactly as directed, this can encourage the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria. These are bacteria that are able to withstand antibiotic treatment and they can pose a serious threat to our health and the way that antibiotics are used in the future.”

People using the Antibiotics Reminder app can search for the antibiotic they have been prescribed by brand name (e.g. Amoxil) or active ingredient (e.g. amoxicillin), with predictive text generating a list of potential matches from an inbuilt database. After selecting the form (e.g. tablets), strength and how often the antibiotic is used, the app generates a set of modifiable alarms to remind the user to take each dose.

When it is time for their next dose, the user receives an alert from the app and a prompt to enter whether that dose was taken on time, early, late or not at all. This information is tracked and can be reviewed later.

The app also allows users to record how they feel each day and track any improvements using a recovery chart; a journey that can be shared with family and friends via Facebook, Twitter or email.

“The Antibiotics Reminder app can help people take their antibiotics on time, every time – an important step in improving treatment outcomes and fighting antibiotic resistance in the community,” says Dr Stowasser.

This is the second smartphone initiative from NPS Medicinewise; an interactive Medicines List app was launched in June last year.

While the Medicine List app is designed primarily for regular medicine users or people on multiple medicines, the Antibiotics Reminder app also caters for more sporadic medicine users who are only prescribed antibiotics occasionally.

The free app is available for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch (with operating systems iOS 5 or higher) by searching for ‘Antibiotics Reminder’ on Apple iTunes on your computer or on the App Store on your mobile device. 

General information about antibiotics and antibiotic resistance is also provided in the app, including a link to a survey for users to provide feedback to NPS.

To read more about the app and for instructions on how to download it, visit www.nps.org.au/antibiotics-reminder

 For further information regarding antibiotics and antibiotic resistance, visit www.nps.org.au/antibiotic_resistance and http://www.nps.org.au/medicines/antibiotics_for_respiratory_tract_infections

13 JUNE 2012


The recent resurgence of whooping cough cases in Australia has heightened the importance of vaccination and isolating people who are infected, according to Dr Philip Britton and Professor Cheryl Jones of the Children’s Hospital at Westmead and the Sydney Emerging Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity Institute.

Writing in June’s Australian Prescriber, Dr Britton and Professor Jones say older children and adults do not always show classical symptoms of the disease however are often a source of infection for young infants, for whom whooping cough can be very dangerous.

“Death from pertussis (whooping cough) is rare overall – but is close to 1% in infants under six months. Complications can include hospitalisation, bacterial infection, failure to thrive, cerebral hypoxia and encephalopathy in infants. Sleep disturbance, rib fracture and prolonged cough can also occur in adults,” write the authors.

Vaccination, isolation of primary cases and antibiotic treatment are important strategies to prevent the transmission of whooping cough. While the current national immunisation schedule recommends vaccinating infants at two, four and six months of age with booster doses at four and 15-17 years, waning immunity has been seen in older children and adults with this schedule.

“For this reason, booster vaccination is now recommended for groups who have a high risk of being in contact with people in at-risk groups, including adults planning a pregnancy, adult family members of newborns, and child and healthcare workers.”

While there is limited evidence regarding the effectiveness of antibiotics as a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of whooping cough, it is still recommended for people who have been exposed to whooping cough and who have a high risk of passing it on to someone most at risk.

“These include people in households where there are newborns or other children less than two years who have received less than three doses of vaccine, healthcare workers in maternity and neonatal units and infants in these units where a healthcare worker was the infected case.”

NPS clinical adviser Dr Philippa Binns says given that antibiotics are so important in treating and preventing the spread of whooping cough, it’s important all Australians take action to prevent the development and spread of antibiotic resistance.

“Antibiotics are important weapons in the fight against bacterial infections like whooping cough, so we need to make sure we keep them for when people really need them. This means not taking them for viral infections such as a cold or flu, because these cannot be treated with antibiotics,” says Dr Binns.

To read the full article and others visit www.australianprescriber.com

Individuals with questions about their medicine can call the Medicines Line (1300 MEDICINE or 1300 633 424), Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm AEST.


12 JUNE 2012 


More calls answered by NPS Medicines Line pharmacists relate to questions involving antidepressants than any other class of medicine.

To help people be medicinewise, NPS has launched a new online knowledge hub on depression and antidepressant medicines, which covers many of the questions asked via Medicines Line.

NPS clinical adviser Dr Philippa Binns says that depression is second only to high blood pressure as the most common chronic problem seen by Australian GPs, and two thirds of people seeing their doctor for depression are given a prescription for antidepressants.

“Depression affects a lot of people in our community, but there are effective treatments for the condition, including both medicine and non-medicine options,” says Dr Binns.

“The use of antidepressants is continuing to rise in Australia, and calls to Medicines Line clearly show that people are being medicinewise by asking questions about what they are taking.”

People who called Medicines Line about antidepressants most often wanted to know about:

*   the potential for interactions with other medicines when they taking an antidepressant, such as possible interactions with cough and cold preparations and complementary medicines.

*  what side effects they are likely to experience with antidepressants

* whether problems they are experiencing may be related to their antidepressant medicines, and

* safety information about using these medicines in pregnancy and breastfeeding.

“Responses to antidepressants are quite individual, so what works well for one person may not for another,” says Dr Binns.

“Under guidance from their health professional, some people will need to try more than one antidepressant in order to find the one that suits them best.”

NPS also urges people not to stop taking an antidepressant without talking to their health professional.

“If you are experiencing side effects, talk to your doctor as a different antidepressant may suit you better, or there may be other strategies to reduce the side effects,” says Dr Binns.

“When you do need to stop taking antidepressants, or change to another one, consult your doctor about how to do this. With certain antidepressants, you may need to gradually reduce the dose to avoid unpleasant side effects. If this is the case, your doctor will work out a plan with you.”

The new NPS knowledge hub provides:

*   tips on finding the right treatment for you and what to do about side effects from an antidepressant

* an A-Z listing of different antidepressant medicines with information about effectiveness, side effects, interactions, and who needs to take extra care with them (e.g. other medical conditions that increase the risk of side effects)

*  information on how to avoid side effects and symptoms when making changes, and

*  an overview of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), an effective alternative to antidepressants for some people, and a useful addition to antidepressant therapy for some others, as well as lifestyle changes and other supportive treatments that can be of benefit

To view the new NPS knowledge hub on depression and antidepressants, visit www.nps.org.au/conditions/depression

Call Medicines Line on 1300 MEDICINE (1300 633 424) from anywhere in Australia for the cost of a local phone call (calls from mobiles may cost more). Hours of operation: Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm EST (excluding NSW public holidays).

5 JUNE 2012


With flu season fast approaching, NPS is encouraging all Australians to find out whether they or any of their family members may need to get a flu vaccination to be protected for the 2012 flu season.

NPS clinical adviser Dr Philippa Binns says that the benefits of the flu vaccine are clear in terms of protecting individuals and communities.

“In Australia, it’s estimated that around 2000 people die and 10,000 people are hospitalised every year because of flu and its complications. Having the flu vaccine protects you, it protects at-risk people you may be in contact with, and it can reduce the chance of needing to use antibiotics to treat flu-related complications,” says Dr Binns.

“Healthy people can be struck down by severe influenza but for some people catching the flu can be very serious, and have a higher risk of complications. For these groups, vaccination is especially recommended and is free under the Australian Government’s National Immunisation Program.

“At risk groups include people with a long-term medical condition such as diabetes or severe asthma, over 65s and pregnant women. If you are in regular contact with someone in a high risk group, then you should also consider having the vaccine to help prevent you from passing the flu on to them.”

Dr Binns says it’s important to remember that if you do get the flu, antibiotics won’t help. This is because the flu is caused by a virus and will not respond to antibiotics.

“However for people in higher risk groups, influenza can result in complications such as pneumonia that do need antibiotic treatment. Vaccination is a simple way to avoid serious illness and related complications,” says Dr Binns.

NPS also reminds people that good hygiene practices can reduce the risk of infections spreading.

“Simple steps like covering your mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, throwing the tissue away in a rubbish bin, then washing your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water can help stop infections from spreading and help prevent you from catching the flu,” says Dr Binns.

Vaccines against strains of influenza likely to affect Australians in 2012 are now available and there are government recommendations about which specific vaccine to use for adults and young children.

Vaccination is recommended for anyone over 6 months of age seeking protection against flu, but it is highly recommended (and free) for people in particular groups at risk of serious complications from the flu. This includes people with pre-existing medical conditions such as diabetes, chronic lung and heart problems, pregnant women, people aged over 65, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged over 15 years.

For more information about who is eligible for free vaccination and evidence-based, unbiased information about flu vaccines visit www.nps.org.au/medicines/vaccines_immunisation/vaccines_a-z/influenza_flu and see your GP or Aboriginal Health Service to discuss whether or not it is appropriate for you.

To find out about more about treating flu without antibiotics and about becoming an antibiotic resistance fighter visit www.nps.org.au/resistance_fighter

If you have any questions about vaccines you can call the NPS Medicines Line (1300 MEDICINE or 1300 633 424), Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm EST.

NPS also provides a phone service for people to report and discuss side effects that might be related to their medicine – the Adverse Medicine Events (AME) Line (1300 134 237).  Any possible side effects reported through the AME Line are reported to the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).

1 JUNE 2012 

Latest edition of Australian Prescriber out now  

The June edition of Australian Prescriber is out now and looks at the following topical issues:

The influence of opinion leaders

Ideally, evidence should guide rational prescribing, but in an editorial in the June edition of Australian Prescriber, Professor Leon Flicker of the Western Australian Centre for Health and Ageing writes that a systematic review found primary care physicians are more likely to seek answers to clinical questions from colleagues than from electronic resources. This trend has not changed dramatically over time, despite the advent of new technology and information resources. According to Prof Flicker, because a relatively small number of doctors guide national and international prescribing patterns, these ‘opinion leaders’ have an influence far beyond their own prescribing patterns and there is concern about their association with the pharmaceutical industry.

Pertussis prophylaxis

There has been a recent resurgence of pertussis, or whooping cough, in Australia. Older children and adults — who are an important source of infection for young infants — don’t always exhibit classical symptoms of the disease. In the June edition of Australian Prescriber, Dr Philip Britton and Professor Cheryl Jones of the Children’s Hospital at Westmead and the Sydney Emerging Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity Institute outline strategies to prevent pertussis transmission. Antibiotic treatment, isolation of index cases and timely vaccination are all important preventative measures, write the authors. Although evidence on the efficacy of chemoprophylaxis is limited, is recommended after exposure to pertussis for high-risk groups such as unimmunised infants, women in late pregnancy and individuals who may be a source of infection.

Drug interactions: principles and practice

Patients are at risk of harmful adverse reactions. However, potential drug interactions can be recognised by applying principles of clinical pharmacology and good clinical care, write Drs Ben Snyder, Thomas Polasek and Matthew Doogue of Flinders Medical Centre Adelaide and Flinders University Adelaide. Drug interactions should be considered both in the differential diagnosis of symptoms (for interactions that have already occurred) and when prescription changes are made (for potential interactions). The authors write that while software checkers for drug interactions are widely available, they have limited clinical utility. The article also covers a range of ways to reduce patient harm from drug interactions.

Rational prescribing for asthma in adults – written asthma action plans

Written asthma action plans are an essential part of effective asthma management, but very few adult patients have one, writes Associate Professor Helen Reddel of the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research. Asthma action plan templates are readily available and can be personalised, says Dr Reddel. The article also outlines prescribing options for worsening and severe asthma, and how to prepare for asthma emergencies.

Other articles in this edition of Australian Prescriber include

* Treatment of age-related macular degeneration

* Diagnostic tests: cytology

To read the full articles and more visit www.australianprescriber.com


Return to home

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options

This question is for testing whether you are a genuine visitor, to prevent automated spam submissions.
Incorrect please try again
Enter the words above: Enter the numbers you hear:

health news headlines provided courtesy of Medical News Today.

Click here to

If any difficulty is found in subscribing, please use the "Contact Us" panel found in the navigation bar with the message "subscribe" and your email address.

Subscribe to our mailing list

Email Format


  • Copyright (C) 2000-2019 Computachem Services, All Rights Reserved.

Website by Ablecode