s NPS Media Releases for October 2013 | I2P: Information to Pharmacists - Archive
Publication Date 01/11/2013         Volume. 5 No. 10   
Information to Pharmacists


From the desk of the editor

Welcome to the November 1 2013, Homepage Edition of i2P – Information to Pharmacists E-Magazine.
We are approaching the end of a calendar year, a year many of us would like to put behind us.
In this edition we report on the “dark forces” that are beginning to surround us while the profession and industry find themselves in a weakened position – far weaker than they were this time last year.
Quite a few opportunities exist and quite a few opportunities have been squandered by our leadership organisations and their executives.
What pharmacy seems to not have is a group of mentors capable of guiding the introduction of paid clinical services.
Because this activity requires a paradigm shift in attitude and culture, their introduction has to be driven by local leadership.

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News Flash

Newsflash Updates November 2013

Newsflash Updates

Regular updates from the global world of pharmacy.
Access and click on the title links that are illustrated.

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Feature Contribution

Is a Community Pharmacy an Incompatible Environment for Clinical Services?

Dr John Dunlop (PGDipPharm, MPharm, DPharm(Auck), FACPP, FNZCP, FPSNZ, MCAPA)

The recent article “observations on implementing a clinical service”,1 stimulated me to share my perceptions of this well meaning approach to providing a clinical service within a community pharmacy.
Firstly let me admit to being much older than the author of this article, and let me establish that I spent over 40 years in community pharmacy before embarking upon a clinical career.
The perception that a viable clinical pharmacy practice can be undertaken in a community pharmacy is contrary to the reality and numerous assessments described in the researched literature.
Having studied this problem for many years, I have come to the conclusion that a community pharmacy environment, which is predominantly a supply and distribution model, is incompatible with the provision of clinical roles.

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Stuff to Think About

Gerald Quigley

Editor's Note: Gerald recently attended a meeting hosted by Medicines Australia.
He picked up on the undercurrent related to the meeting's real agenda.
There are some sinister elements that sense that pharmacy may be in a weakened state with a large number of pharmacists being focused on survival-both employers and employees.
These elements are looking to exploit pharmacy and limit its independence as part of a wide-ranging agenda.
Your help is needed.

The words which literally grabbed me at this meeting included “caught”, “capture” and “tracking”.
No, we weren’t discussing wild animals or escapees from the penal colonies……we were discussing dedicated, hard-working, committed and patient-focused health professionals in Australia.
I attended the Medicines Australia Transparency Working Group meeting in Melbourne last month.
The discussions were centred on the medical profession, more especially on prescribed medicines from my understanding.
References though were continually made about pharmacists.

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Roadblocks in Clinical Services Provision

Neil Johnston

I have been reading with interest, Peter Sayers' journey into paid professional services and his cautious optimism.
Now, as a feature article in this current edition of i2P John Dunlop, a respected New Zealand pharmacist, expresses doubt that clinical pharmacists are going to make it in a community pharmacy setting.
Further, Professor Austin Zubin at a recent PAC2013 conference in Brisbane identified a problem amongst pharmacists he describes as ‘Paralysis in the face of ambiguity’ as he pondered why pharmacists were not taking up opportunities in primary health care.
“Despite abundant opportunity and patient demand, government recognition etc, across the world, a similar picture emerges of a profession that is its own worst enemy,” he said.
 “The standard response to new opportunities is, ‘I don’t have enough time, I’m not trained for this, I’m not getting paid enough, it’s too costly….”

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A Report on HPV Vaccine at the 3rd world congress on Cancer Science and Therapy in San Francisco October 2013

Judy Wilyman

The University of Wollongong recently provided funding for me to present my research on the HPV vaccine at the 3rd world congress on Cancer Science and Therapy in San Francisco.
On the 22nd October I presented my research that demonstrates that HPV vaccination has not been proven to be safe or effective against cervical cancer.
Japan and India have recently stopped recommending this vaccine due to deaths and disability after vaccination.

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Is the CHF (Consumer Health Forum) representative of consumers?

Mark Coleman

i2P has often commented on the orchestration of various lobby groups and their suspect behaviours when orchestrating their seemingly unrelated activities.
They seem to have gotten their chorus to be sung in tune.
Gerald Quigley referred to these "dark forces" in his article in this month's edition.
Their activities are disruptive, damaging and distracting to say the least and some border on the illegal.
They also have a common thread in that members of the Skeptics Society are common within their membership allowing the various groups to work in concert.
i2P readers need to be aware of these activities because they may have to mobilise their resources to counter behaviours that affect pharmacy-directly and indirectly.

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Are On-Line Shoppers Only Concerned With Price?

Chris Foster

It’s easy to assume that the on line shopper is attracted to that medium solely by the cheaper prices that may be available.
And, if price was the only criteria, the majority of bricks and mortar stores (B&M) would well and truly be out of business by now.
Yes, as always, there are a number of consumers where price is the sole determinant in the decision to purchase. Traditionally, this has been around 10% to 15% of consumers.
However, what are the real facts?

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I’ve been texting, I mean thinking about texting, as well as dialing, handwriting, and face-to-face talking in our hurry-up worl

Mark Neuenschwander

These days we call the US Post Service [sic] snail mail. But in 1775, Ben Franklin’s innovation sped up letter travel between Philadelphia and San Francisco from forever to a few months.
In 1844, Samuel Morse accelerated message delivery exponentially. Transmitting words at the speed of light, the inventor’s telegraph made Abraham Lincoln our first online president, enabling the commander in chief to chat instantaneously with his generals on the front lines.
In 1862 the transcontinental railroad relegated the year-old Pony Express to mothballs by whisking letters from coast to coast at 30-some miles per hour in under ten days.

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Caring for you Caring for others – a report on the Health Professionals’ Health Conference 2013 3 October to 5 October 2013

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

Evolving from the Doctors’ Health Conference the program of the Health Professionals’ Health Conference included much of relevance to all health professionals including pharmacists. Delegates came from all over Australia and New Zealand as well as several travelling from countries further away including England, Ireland, Hong Kong, Singapore, Canada and USA. Delegates included a range of health professionals and medical students. Notably only two pharmacists attended this conference which had approximately 160 delegates.

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Culture Bonds, Right?

Barry Urquhart

PAY ATTENTION: Applying “automatic cruise” is not a viable or appropriate option for management by business leaders today.
The pathway to success and to the future is littered with numerous, often unforeseen barriers, impediments and filters.
There is a clarion-clear message in this for all. It parallels the findings of a recent detailed study among motor vehicle drivers and into the causes of road accidents.
The consistent and most disturbing primary cause of motor vehicle accidents was not speed, alcohol, climatic conditions or unfamiliarity with the local road network (through these were significant, often independent contributors to the accident statistics).
The highest ranking causal factor was INATTENTION.
Being distracted from the primary focus can, and often does have dire consequences.
On the road these can include receiving and sending text messages, mobile telephone calls, loud and aggressive passengers, external eye-catching activities and simple tiredness, boredom and outright inattention.
The consequences can and do impact on many.

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Treating ADHD with Vitamin B-3 (Niacinamide)

Staff Writer

From Orthomolecular Medicine News Service- Editor: Andrew W Saul

ADHD is not caused by a drug deficiency.
But it may indeed be caused by profound nutrient deficiency, more accurately termed nutrient dependency. Although all nutrients are important, the one that an ADHD child is most likely in greatest need of is vitamin B-3, niacinamide.

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Celebrating youth service at We Day

Harvey Mackay

The atmosphere was beyond electric: 18,000 cheering teenagers, and it wasn’t for a rock star, a pro athlete or even canceling school.
This remarkable group of students gathered in St. Paul, Minn., for We Day in early October to be recognized for their stellar record of volunteering.
And this was only one of more than a dozen such gatherings across North America.
We Day is described as a celebration of the power of young Americans to create positive and lasting change, not only in their communities and around the world, but within themselves.

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Pointless and perilous pathologies

Loretta Marron OAM BSc

Off sex, always tired or feeling low? Why not see a natural therapist to find out what's wrong. They offer a variety of tests to nail your problems - but do they work? Hang on, the experts say "No"!
"Commercially driven, unvalidated, pseudo-medical tests are endangering the well-being of Australians by giving wrong diagnoses and incorrect reassurances of their health",
so say the Friends of Science in Medicine (FSM) Pathology Advisory Group. Consisting of distinguished pathologists and allergists from both Australia and New Zealand, their warning comes with the support of The Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia (RCPA).

Comments: 1

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Multi-Professional Prescribing- The AMA Lost Out

Neil Johnston

You have to scratch your head sometimes, particularly when you see news reports quoting Steve Hambledon (AMA President) stating that autonomous prescribing by “non medical health professionals” (which, of course, includes pharmacists), is “dangerous”.
This statement is just about as ridiculous as an earlier statement indicating vaccines provided through pharmacy were dangerous because pharmacy lacks suitable refrigerators.
This followed the decision by COAG to approve the draft Health Professionals Prescribing Pathway, now only requiring legislative approval and Board Guidelines to become a significant factor in the pharmacy profession moving forward.

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Niacin Beats Statins Supplements and Diet are Safer, More Effective

Staff Writer

OHMS Newsletter
by Andrew W. Saul, Editor

 Statins for everyone?
If media are to be believed, and if the drug industry has its way, the answer is "you bet."
The American Academy of Pediatrics has stated that kids as young as eight years of age might take statin drugs.
Specifically: "As a group, statins have been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol in children and adolescents with marked LDL cholesterol elevation . . . when used from 8 weeks to 2 years for children aged 8 to 18 years." http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/128/Supplement_5/S213.full
Strangely enough, American Academy of Pediatrics projects receive cash from Merck & Co., Pfizer and Sanofi-Aventis, as well as from Procter and Gamble, Nestlé and other large corporations. http://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/corporate-relationships/Pages/Friends-of-Children-Fund-President%27s-Circle.aspx

Comments: 1

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Chiropractors and GP’s told to team up after published research

Mark Coleman

Recently, the Chiropractors Association of Australia partially funded a study undertaken by researchers at the University of Melbourne, which has provided the best picture yet of the most common conditions treated by chiropractors.
It suggests most chiropractic treatments and consultations undertaken in Australia are evidence based.

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Fart With Confidence

Peter Jackson

Technology derived during the development of protective clothing for use in chemical warfare has now been adapted for everyday consumers to assist them in daily living. The discovery that carbon fibre can absorb and filter flatulence odours and incontinence odours has now been put to practical use in a commercial product called "Shreddies".

Comments: 1

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What Replaced Kodak?

Neil Johnston

At the turn of the 20th Century Kodak  reigned supreme.
Box Brownies were the camera for every occasion and the developing and printing of film was big business for pharmacy.
Kodak liked the alliance with pharmacy because pharmacists understood the science behind the various types of film, the processing chemicals and the nuances of the various printing papers.
Yes, Kodak liked the pharmacy retail environment so much that any pharmacists could order a repaint of their front of shop awning at any time – free of charge, provided the name Kodak dominated in the Kodak colours of red, yellow and black.

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A Catalyst for Change

Gerald Quigley

Editor's Note: Australia, it seems, has had the highest global rate of prescribing for statins.
That seems to suggest that Australian doctors may have been prescribing unnecessarily, and behind that fact, allowing drug companies to influence them to a greater extent than necessary.
Those $10 meals certainly provided a return on investment for drug companies to the extent that the party may now be over as approximately 40 percent of doctors are reviewing their prescribing practices surrounding statin usage in their patients. Gerald Quigley relates one patient experience.

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Pushing the envelope

Harvey Mackay

“Pushing the envelope” is a phrase that originated with American test pilots like Chuck Yaeger and John Glenn in the 1940s.
It described max stress situations for the metal skin (“envelope”) of a jet aircraft.  In other words, the plane was designed to fly safely up to a certain speed for a certain distance at a certain altitude. 
The job of test pilots was to “push the envelope” by making the plane go faster, farther and higher.  The term “pushing the envelope” came into popular parlance in the blockbuster book and movie (1983) “The Right Stuff.”
Naturally, this phrase is near and dear to me.  On my business card, my title is “Envelope Salesman.”  So literally, I am pushing the envelope every day! 

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Medical Debate Censorship Attempt by NSW Government

Staff Writer

Editor's Note: Until today, I had never heard of the organisation Avaaz.
Avaaz—meaning "voice" in several European, Middle Eastern and Asian languages—launched in 2007 with a simple democratic mission: organize citizens of all nations to close the gap between the world we have and the world most people everywhere want.
Avaaz empowers millions of people from all walks of life to take action on pressing global, regional and national issues, from corruption and poverty to conflict and climate change.
The Avaaz model of internet organising allows thousands of individual efforts, however small, to be rapidly combined into a powerful collective force. (Read about results on the Highlights page.)
The Avaaz community campaigns in 15 languages, served by a core team on 6 continents and thousands of volunteers.
Avaaz takes action -- signing petitions, funding media campaigns and direct actions, emailing, calling and lobbying governments, and organizing "offline" protests and events -- to ensure that the views and values of the world's people inform the decisions that affect us all.

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Inquiry into the Promotion of False or Misleading Health-Related Information or Practices

Judy Wilyman

I'd like to draw your attention to an inquiry that is taking place in the NSW parliament. It is titled ˜Inquiry into the Promotion of False or Misleading Health-Related Information or Practices".
This inquiry is being held by the Committee on the Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC).
This is the consumer watchdog that investigates consumer complaints or concerns.
The aim of the inquiry is to report on possible measures to address the promotion of unscientific health-related information or practices that may be detrimental to individual or public health.

Comments: 8

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New sensor passes litmus test

Staff Researcher

Edith Cowan University researchers have drawn on their expertise in nanotechnology to update the humble pH sensor, replacing traditional glass electrode devices that have been in use since the 1930s with a new sensor thinner than a human hair.
Electron Science Research Institute Director Professor Kamal Alameh said the sensor could have exciting new applications in the oil and gas and medical industries.

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Structure Sensor 3D Scanner Works with New iPad Air and iPad Mini

Staff Writer

Editor's Note: At i2P we're convinced that 3D printing is going to invade just about every aspect of pharmacy - from tablet and vaccine manufacture, drug testing on a patient's own tissue outside of the body. to design detail for any item of pharmacy furniture.
We are therefore stepping up reportage for this exciting and disruptive technology.

if you were one of the almost 3,000 backers of the Structure Sensor on Kickstarter and were hoping to attach the 3D scanning device to your new iPad Air and iPad Mini with Retina Display, you might be a little worried about compatibility. 
Well, fret not. Occipital, the startup behind the Structure Sensor, has adapted its product to Apple’s latest release.

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New nanoparticle delivers, tracks cancer drugs

Staff Researcher

Chemical engineers and clinicians from UNSW and Monash University have synthesised a new iron oxide nanoparticle that delivers cancer drugs to cells while simultaneously monitoring the drug release in real time.
The result, published online in the journal ACS Nano, represents an important development for the emerging field of theranostics – a term that refers to nanoparticles that can treat and diagnose disease.

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How fat could help solve part of the diabetes problem

Staff Researcher

The pancreas is a large organ that wraps around our gut, and produces the exact amount of insulin our bodies need when we eat – except when we start to develop diabetes, and insulin production slows down. Sydney scientists describe how a fat recycling system within pancreatic ‘beta cells’ determines the amount of insulin they secrete, and so may provide a target for future diabetes therapies.

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Receipt of licence application (DIR 126) from PaxVax Australia Pty Ltd for a clinical trial of a GM cholera vaccine

Judy Wilyman

I'd just like to make you aware of this government action to release a genetically modified live bacterial cholera vaccine into the population. Here is the link to this experiment on the government website http://www.ogtr.gov.au/internet/ogtr/publishing.nsf/Content/dir126
Cholera has not been a problem in Australia for many decades.
I have not seen this mentioned in the media so I hope people will take an interest to find out why this experiment is necessary in the Australian population.

Comments: 2

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Australia’s future healthcare system must be consumer-centric (ASMI 2013 Conference)

Marie Kelly-Davies

The importance of industry, policymakers and regulators putting the consumer front and centre of discussions on Australia’s future health system was a key theme of the 2013 Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI) Conference in Sydney recently.

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ASMI welcomes community pharmacy support for S3 information-based advertising

Marie Kelly-Davies

The Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI) is encouraged by strong signals of support from community pharmacy to expand the range of Pharmacist Only (S3) medicines as well as its widespread support of an information-based communications approach to consumers for S3 medicines, as demonstrated by the UTS Pharmacy Barometer released this week.1
Prescription to non-prescription reclassification (‘Rx to OTC switch’) and lifting the current advertising restrictions on S3 communication are key issues that remain high on ASMI’s agenda.

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Dark Forces Emerging - Including Colesworth

Neil Johnston

Editor’s Comment:
The media extract this month comes from a Pharmacy News report that Woolworths is on the move once more with pharmacy in its sights.
We would assume that Coles is also in the mix.
There are many “dark forces” aligned against pharmacy interests. In all my years as a member of the pharmacy profession I don’t think I have seen so many diverse groups waiting in line to “knee-cap” pharmacy activity.
Because many of these “dark forces” overlap and help each other along, I have asked Mark Coleman to clarify these “dark forces” from his perspective, because he has been researching some of these organisations and has written an article about some of them in this edition.
In no way can I see a Liberal Government, the representatives of big business, move to restrain Colesworth, except for minor marginal activities.

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NPS Media Releases for October 2013

NPS Spokesperson

articles by this author...

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

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22 OCTOBER 2013




The latest NPS MedicineWise case study Type 2 diabetes: tailoring ongoing treatment has been launched in a new dynamic online format. The case study focuses on available treatment options for a 75-year-old male with type 2 diabetes and offers continuing professional development (CPD) points for GPs, pharmacists and nurses.


NPS MedicineWise clinical adviser Dr Andrew Boyden says the new online case study offers an interactive, engaging and flexible online learning experience.


The case study provides immediate individual and peer results to challenge thinking and includes feedback from an expert in the field of diabetes: Professor Stephen Twigg from the University of Sydney,” he says.


Diabetes is one of the most prevalent chronic conditions in Australia and 1 in 4 people over the age of 75 are estimated to have type 2 diabetes, so this case study is an essential learning activity for all health professionals.”


Participants are able to work through the clinical scenario online with interactive questions and receive immediate feedback based on their responses. The activity also provides best practice points that can be applied to patient care.


Users are able to access the case study on a computer or tablet and switch between devices seamlessly meaning you can start the learning activity at the workplace  and continue it on the train on the way home,” says Dr Boyden.


The case study covers concepts including:


·         Management of CVD risk factors and glycaemic control

·         Update on role of low-dose aspirin for patients with type 2 diabetes

·         Changes to HbA1c reporting

·         Advantages and disadvantages of newer glucose lowering medicines

·         Tailoring treatment for an older patient with type 2 diabetes


Case studies are also recognised for the Quality Prescribing Incentive (QPI) of the Practice Incentives Program (PIP). This activity is also accredited for pharmacists and nurses to earn CPD credits.


For more information and to get started on the new case study visit www.nps.org.au/casestudy.



18 OCTOBER 2013





Today, NPS MedicineWise is urging people to ask questions about their medicines by speaking to a health professional or calling the NPS Medicines Line.


The call to ask questions is the last of five daily challenges set for Australians as part of Be Medicinewise Week 2013, which has focused on the health of Australia’s ageing population. The medicinewise challenge was launched on Monday by Australian icon Bert Newton to help people make better decisions about their health and medicines.


NPS Medicines Line Manager and pharmacist Sarah Spagnardi says asking questions is one of the best ways to avoid potentially serious problems with your medicines, but says too few people play this active role in their health care.


In our research* with older Australians and their carers, only half of people surveyed said they regularly talk to their doctor or pharmacist about how they feel about their medicines,” says Ms Spagnardi.


And while 75% of older people and their carers say they talk to their doctor about the risks and benefits of their medicines, only one in three will discuss their non-prescription and complementary medicines.”


Ms Spagnardi says everyone involved in your health care needs to know about all the medicines you take, and there are good reasons why older Australians should always ask questions about what they’re putting into their bodies.


Around one in three unplanned hospital admissions involving older Australians are due to problems with medicines – half of those problems could be prevented.


Typically, we have more long-term health problems and will take more medicines when we’re older, so as we age the risk of medicine-related problems can increase.”


Our bodies also change a lot as we age. We handle medicines differently and become more sensitive to medicines, which means there’s a greater risk of side effects and potentially harmful medicine interactions.”


Ms Spagnardi says medicine-related problems can sometimes go unrecognised because common symptoms – like confusion, tiredness or falls – are often considered ‘normal’ for older people, when they may actually be due to the medicines they are taking.


Medicines are supposed to keep us healthy, so we tend to assume they will. But when we combine multiple medicines it’s not uncommon for things to go wrong,” she says.


So don’t make assumptions about your health and medicines. Be medicinewise: talk to your health professionals about how you want to improve your health, and ask to have your medicines reviewed regularly.


And if you have any questions about your prescription, over-the-counter, or complementary medicines, ask your health professional or call the NPS Medicines Line.”


For more information on prescription, over-the-counter and complementary medicines (herbal, ‘natural’, vitamins and minerals) from a health professional, call NPS Medicines Line on 1300 MEDICINE (1300 633 424) for the cost of a local call (calls from mobiles may cost more). Hours of operation are Monday–Friday 9am–5pm AEST (excluding public holidays).


For more information Be Medicinewise Week visit http://www.nps.org.au/bemedicinewiseweek

or visit www.facebook.com.au/npsmedicinewise to join the conversation.


*Survey of 796 older Australians or their carers conducted for NPS MedicineWise by UMR Research in July/August 2013



17 OCTOBER 2013






On day four of Be Medicinewise Week 2013, NPS MedicineWise is urging people to check the instructions for all their medicines and make sure they are taking them the right way.


The call comes as part of the week’s national medicinewise challenge which was launched on Monday by Australian icon Bert Newton.


This year, Be Medicinewise Week is focused on the health of Australia’s ageing population, and clinical advisor at NPS MedicineWise, Dr Andrew Boyden, says Thursday’s challenge is particularly important for older Australians.


In our new research* with older Australians and their carers, we found that around one in four older people have problems remembering to take some of their medicines; and one in three people don’t always read the labels on their medicines,” says Dr Boyden.


Following instructions is crucial. Taking medicines at the right time, in the correct dose; not taking certain medicines together; and other instructions - like taking medicines with food - helps to keep us safe and healthy.


But following instructions isn’t always easy. This is particularly true as we get older and start to take several different medicines, each with different doses, and often, each taken at different times of day.


And if your hearing, eyesight or memory is affected, it can be difficult to keep track of the instructions written on your medicines or given to you by a health professional.


Mistakes with your medicines have the real potential to cause you serious harm, so it’s important that you have the information and support you need to follow instructions carefully.”


According to Dr Boyden, the consumer medicine information (CMI) is a valuable source of information about prescription and pharmacist-only medicines, but only 45% of older people always read the CMI when they start a new medicine. You can search for the CMI for your medicines at www.nps.org.au/medicines or ask your doctor or pharmacist for a copy.


Dr Boyden suggests that if you, or someone you care for, has trouble reading the instructions on medicine labels, you can ask your pharmacist for the same information on a separate sheet in large print.


You can also ask your pharmacist about getting a medication organiser – like a dosette box – to help you take your medicines the right way,” he says.


It can be easier to follow instructions if you set a reminder on your alarm clock or phone; take your medicines as part of a daily routine – like brushing your teeth; or ask someone to remind you about your medicines.


And if you find you’re still having difficulty following the instructions for all your medicines, or you care for somebody who is, ask your doctor or pharmacist about a medicines review.


Being an active partner in your medicines management is one of the best things you can do to be medicinewise and stay healthy.”


For more information Be Medicinewise Week visit http://www.nps.org.au/bemedicinewiseweek

or visit www.facebook.com.au/npsmedicinewise to join the conversation.


*Survey of 796 older Australians or their carers conducted for NPS MedicineWise by UMR Research in July/August 2013


 16 OCTOBER 2013




This Wednesday NPS MedicineWise wants everyone to clean out their medicine cabinets and rid their homes, cars and offices of unwanted, unnecessary and potentially harmful out-of-date medicines.


Clean Out Your Medicine Cabinet Day’ (16 October) marks the halfway point in a national medicinewise challenge that has been set as part of Be Medicinewise Week 2013.


This year the national initiative is focused on the health of Australia’s ageing population but on Wednesday, Be Medicinewise Week ambassador Dr John D’Arcy and NPS MedicineWise are urging everyone to get involved.


It’s pretty clear that Australians need to become more medicinewise. Around 1.5 million people experience a medicines-related problem each year and hospitals see 190,000 admissions per year as a result,” says Dr D’Arcy.


Medicines use in Australia is just about universal. Chances are we’ve all got a few medicines lying around the house, stuffed in a draw at work, hiding in the glove box or stashed in our bags. But when was the last time you checked whether those medicines were still safe to use?


Medicines can change significantly over time – chemically or in their physical form. Beyond their expiry dates, they may become less effective, and in some cases might even become toxic. Holding onto your old pills and potions can be dangerous if you end up taking them.”


But it’s not just out-of-date medicines we need to worry about. Dr D’Arcy warns you should also dispose of medicines you no longer need.


Medicines you no longer need may no longer be right for you, so saving some for next time or giving them to someone else is a big risk that’s not worth taking.”


According to Dr D’Arcy, the key to spring cleaning your medicines cabinet is knowing what to look for. Medicines come in many forms, including tablets, liquids, inhalers, drops, patches, creams, suppositories and injections.


A lot of people don’t realise that complementary medicines such as herbal remedies, vitamins, minerals, and nutritional supplements are medicines too,” says Dr D’Arcy.


It helps to remember that a medicine is what you take to change the way your body deals with illness or injury, or to maintain your health and wellbeing.”


This Wednesday, take the medicinewise challenge and use our C.L.E.A.N tips to help you keep your medicine cabinet safe and tidy.

·         Collect all the medicines in your house. Check your handbag, car, bedside table and first aid and travel kits.

·         Look at the expiry date on the label or packaging of all medicines to check if they’re still in date.

·         Exclude medicines from your cabinet that are past their expiry date or are no longer needed. If in doubt, ask your pharmacist or doctor. If a medicine has an expiry month, this means the end of that month.

·         Arrange to have unwanted or out-of-date medicines disposed of by a pharmacy. Return your medicines to any pharmacy for safe and easy disposal through the Return of Unwanted Medicines (RUM) Project.

·         Note all your medicines using an NPS Medicines List to help you keep track of them.

For more information about Be Medicinewise Week visit http://www.nps.org.au/bemedicinewiseweek

or visit www.facebook.com.au/npsmedicinewise to join the conversation.



14 OCTOBER 2013





Today, Bert Newton joins Dr John D’Arcy and NPS MedicineWise to launch Be Medicinewise Week 2013. 

Now in its third year, Be Medicinewise Week helps people to make safer and more informed decisions about their medicines and health. This year, the national initiative focuses on Australia’s ageing population.

CEO of NPS MedicineWise, Dr Lynn Weekes, says that being an active partner in your health care and medicines management is especially important for older Australians who tend to suffer more chronic health issues and often need to take multiple medicines.

Medicines problems are common in older people. One in three unplanned hospital admissions involving older Australians are due to problems with medicines, but half of these could be prevented,” says Dr Weekes.

Bert Newton is a national icon whose personal health story will ring true for many. With his support, we’re working to build a medicinewise Australia and reduce the number of medicines problems people experience.”

Dr Weekes says that 43 percent of people aged 50 plus take five or more medicines a day, and research released today underscores the importance of the medicinewise movement for Australia’s ageing population. 

While many older Australians are managing multiple medicines, only 55 percent of people surveyed keep a list of their medicines; of those who don’t, 30 percent have no way of keeping track of what they take.

People aren’t always aware of the risks and benefits of their medicines. One in four people think that prescription medicines rarely or never have side effects and just 20% know that side effects are common for these medicines.”

Be Medicinewise Week ambassador, Bert Newton, says he can relate to the experience of many Australians who’ve suffered chronic health issues and found they’re taking more medicines as they get older.

There’d be a lot of people who don’t realise that when it comes to taking medicines, they’re not as wise as they should be; I too have had some personal experience of this as the result of my ill health last year,” says Bert.

I’m in pretty good health now but I had to learn very quickly to keep track of what medicines I’m taking, and why. My advice to people would be: make sure you understand what your medicines are for; know how to take your medicines properly; and seek out advice and information to help you take your medicines safely.

I’ve had the benefit of a close relationship with a wise doctor, who’s been my GP for the past 30 years. I think it gives you confidence when you understand your medicines as much as you can as a non-medical person.

Be Medicinewise Week all boils down to some simple but important advice for people in my age group, below it and certainly above it - and I’m right behind it. Take the medicinewise challenge and get medicinewise.”

For more information Be Medicinewise Week visit http://www.nps.org.au/bemedicinewiseweek

Or visit www.facebook.com.au/npsmedicinewise each day to join the conversation with Bert Newton.



11 OCTOBER 2013





On Monday NPS MedicineWise, with the help of ambassadors Bert Newton and Dr John D’Arcy, will launch Be Medicinewise Week 2013.


The week is a national public health initiative to encourage the quality use of medicines in the community and support people to make safer and more informed decisions about their medicines and health.


Now in its third year, Be Medicinewise Week 2013 will focus on Australia’s ageing population, providing older Australians with tools and information to be active partners in their health care and medicines management.


NPS MedicineWise Clinical Advisor, Dr Andrew Boyden, says health professionals play a vital role in community education and can help older patients better understand the role of medicines in their healthcare.


Helping patients to understand why they are taking medicines; how to take those medicines safely; and what to do if they experience problems is critical to reducing adverse medicines events,” says Dr Boyden.


In a national census of medicines use, NPS MedicineWise found that most older Australians take five or more medicines per day and the proportion of people aged 75 years or older taking multiple medicines is double that of those aged 50-64 years.


By taking more medicines, older people have a higher risk of adverse outcomes: people who take five or more medicines everyday are almost twice as likely to report a medicines problem as those who take less.


Medicines use in older people is a balance between managing conditions according to disease based guidelines and addressing patient goals while at the same time avoiding medicine-related problems.


Finding this balance can be helped when patients an active role in their care. Encouraging patients to keep a list of their medicines, discuss their long-term health goals and understand the risks and benefits of their medicines is key to safe medicines management.”


During Be Medicinewise Week, all Australians are being urged to take part in a daily medicinewise challenge. Dr Boyden says that health professionals can support their patients in the following ways:


·         Learn: Approximately 46% of people aged 50 years or older use complementary medicines. Many are not aware that these medicines may interact with prescription medicines and contribute to increased risk or pill burden. Review your patients’ medicines and ask about complementary and over-the-counter medicines use. 

·         Manage: For older people taking multiple medicines, knowing the active ingredient is important so they can avoid doubling up. Ensure your patients know how to recognise the active ingredient in their medicines and encourage them to maintain an up-to-date medicines list.

·         Discuss: Encourage older people to ask questions and discuss the risks and benefits of their medicines. Assist patients and their carers to access the information they need understand their condition, their medicines and their care.


The latest therapeutic topic from NPS MedicineWise, Older and wiser: promoting safe use of medicines in older people, supports GPs to achieve good medicines management with older patients. GPs can request an educational visit via email to edvisits@nps.org.au or by calling (02) 8217 8795.


For more information about Be Medicinewise Week visit www.nps.org.au/bemedicinewiseweek 


9 OCTOBER 2013




Next Monday, Bert Newton will join NPS MedicineWise to launch Be Medicinewise Week 2013 and urge everyone to take part in a national medicinewise challenge.


Now in its third year, Be Medicinewise Week 2013 will focus on the Australia’s ageing population, giving older Australians the tools and information they need to get wise about their health and their medicines.


At the launch on Monday, Australian icon, Bert Newton, will tell of his own experiences with health and medicines, urging everyone to become medicinewise and get more involved in their health management.


Dr Lynn Weekes, CEO of NPS MedicineWise, will also address the launch to release new findings about older Australians’ attitudes and behaviours when it comes to taking medicines.


Every year, 190,000 Australians will be admitted to hospital following a problem with their medicines and one in three unplanned hospital admissions involving older people is be medicines-related.


Many medicines problems can be prevented and urging people to be medicinewise is one way NPS MedicineWise works to bring down the number of potentially dangerous adverse medicines events in Australia.


During Be Medicinewise Week, we’re asking people to get to know their medicines, to play an active role in their health care, and to learn how to get the most out of their medicines and medical tests.



Be Medicinewise Week is on from 14-20 October, 2013.


Members of the media are invited to join:


Australian icon, Bert Newton,

Celebrity GP, Dr John D’Arcy; and
CEO of NPS MedicineWise, Dr Lynn Weekes


for the launch of Be Medicinewise Week, new NPS MedicineWise research, and the medicinewise challenge.


Date:                Monday 14 October, 2013

Time:               12:15 for 12:30pm

Location:          Redfern Oval Community Room

                        51 Redfern Street, Redfern, Sydney.

                        Next to the Redfern Oval grandstand.


Light lunch, tea and coffee will be provided.

Numbers are strictly limited. Please RSVP by Thursday 10 October.


Stephanie Childs (02) 8217 8667, 0419 618 365 or schilds@nps.org.au

Erin Jardine (02) 8217 8733, 0419 618 365 or ejardine@nps.org.au


About NPS MedicineWise:


Independent, evidence-based and not-for-profit, NPS MedicineWise enables Australians to make the best decisions about medicines and medical tests, creating better health and economic outcomes for individuals and the nation.


We identify and resolve challenges around the way medicines and medical tests are used, creating and implementing practical solutions that deliver health benefits to Australians.


We are for a medicinewise Australia. Our programs are funded by the Australian Government Department of Health.




1 OCTOBER 2013


Latest edition of Australian Prescriber out now


Asthma drugs in pregnancy and lactation

Uncontrolled asthma during pregnancy poses short and long-term risks to the mother and her baby. Angelina Lim, Dr Safeera Hussainy and Professor Michael Abramson from Monash University explain that while pregnant women may have some concerns about asthma medication during pregnancy, optimal asthma control should always be the first priority, and that guidelines recommend women should continue the same therapy they used before pregnancy.


The article examines the evidence behind commonly used asthma medicines in pregnancy, and provides an explanation of the Australian categorisation of risk for these drugs in pregnancy.


Assessment and management of eating disorders

Professor Phillipa Hay from the University of Western Sydney writes that early identification of eating disorders –particularly anorexia nervosa in children and adolescents, and bulimia nervosa and binge eating – is associated with good outcomes. Optimal management involves coordinated care between primary and specialist care.

The author outlines and provides an update on some of the evidence-based treatments which include family-based therapy for young people with anorexia nervosa, and a specific form of cognitive behavioural therapy with or without a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor in bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder.


Prescribing for refugees

Problems that may arise when prescribing for people of refugee background can be minimised by taking time to undertake education and careful explanation, write Dr Mitchell Smith, Director of the NSW Refugee Health Service, Dr Winston Lo, medical educator at GP Synergy, and Jessica Bindra from the University of NSW.


The authors write that religious and cultural beliefs, limited health literacy and use of traditional medicines can all affect health care for refugees. In addition, psychological conditions are very common, and the doctor may encounter unfamiliar conditions. Recently arrived refugees should have a thorough health check. There are Medicare items for assessing the health of refugees.


Clear communication by the health professional is vital. They need to confirm the patient’s understanding of the information they provide, and use a professional interpreter when necessary. The Translating and Interpreting Service (1300 131 450) provides free phone interpreters for doctors in private practice, and for community pharmacists.


Other articles in this edition of Australian Prescriber include


•       Principles for managing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

•       Rational use of topical corticosteroids

•       Making sense of equivalence, non-inferiority and active control trials


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



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