s NPS Media Releases for September 2013 | I2P: Information to Pharmacists - Archive
Publication Date 03/10/2013         Volume. 5 No. 9   
Information to Pharmacists


From the desk of the editor

Welcome to the October homepage edition of i2P - Information to Pharmacists.
Well it seems that change in pharmacy will be continuous and will come from unexpected quarters each time it strikes.
The only way pharmacy can survive this continuous change is to either embrace it with a strong new business plan, sell out or amalgamate with partners who see strength in a strategic partnership.

And while many pharmacists are finding the key to successfully selling clinical services, the lead time to bring a single service on line may be too long to make a suitable financial contribution.
Coupled with the fact that the AMA will fight tooth and nail to prevent pharmacy making any inroads whatsoever, the time has come to take them on.
Vaccination services could be the first disputed service as the AMA has already voiced strong opposition to the possibility of pharmacists providing these services.

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Recent Comments

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News Flash

Newsflash Updates for October 2013

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

A new era for American pharmacies has begun

Fiona Sartoretto Verna AIAPP

The birth of the first drugstore in 1929 in the USA represented a big revolution for that time: an innovative store design, a new concept of retail store, fair pricing and a wide exposition of products. 84 years have passed by and nothing has changed in the today’s American pharmacies, with the exception of the most important factor: the customers!In fact, while the new technologies, the computers and the smart phones have created far more attentive, curious, and informed customers, the drugstores and the American pharmacies remained the same: big, wide exposition of products in low gondola shelving without any customer service or help during the buy.

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Access all Areas - Is This a Positive for Pharmacy?

Neil Johnston

That pharmacy is in need of a renewal process is not in dispute.
That every man and his dog become instant pharmacy experts when a debate on pharmacy is opened is an expected phenomenon.
And when it is perceived that the "experts" have little knowledge of pharmacy but want to reduce pharmacists' incomes (already and constantly under siege), without engaging the range of aspirations pharmacists already hold, they wonder why it suddenly becomes a non-event.
If a discussion paper emerged that had genuine pharmacist input I would think that most pharmacists would participate in discussion of it.
In other words don't insult our intelligence by placing us in a pecking order that is uninspiring or menial in its approach.
But do approach us with intelligent conversation that has no hidden agendas and is honest in its approach, and do not try to impose your view of the pharmacist's role from your limited perspective.
Then we can all get on with some form of positive collaboration.

Comments: 1

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CHF Responds to Article

Neil Johnston

The Consumer Health Forum has responded to a recent i2P article on the resignation of Carol Bennett.
The article can be found at:

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A Misplaced Medical Judgement

Mark Coleman

Approximately two weeks ago a Dr David Smith published an opinion piece in an online medical publication that was very derogatory towards pharmacy's professionalism.
It is one of many articles that seem to be "planted" in unison with other articles or events.
For example, the release of a Grattan Institute paper titled "Access All Areas", hinting at an expanded role for pharmacists in primary health care.
The article was authored by Dr David Smith who describes himself as "a GP and a consultant in clinical and corporate ethics".
Smith's comments are certainly a bit rich when you consider that pharmacy has always been involved with primary health care and when you further consider his client base he loses all credibility.

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A “new way” for PBS supply to all Australians – ANAO told

Rollo Manning

In a submission to the Australian National Audit Office review of the 5th Community Pharmacy Agreement, Pharmacist and PR Consultant Rollo Manning has advocated for a “new way” of supplying Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme medicines and services to Australian Taxpayers that will:

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Researcher Gains Funding

Judy Wilyman

Editor's Note: Judy Wilyman is a dedicated researcher working her way towards a doctorate in science.
Her research concerns vaccinations but mention the word vaccination, and suddenly the board lights up with what I call "the Skeptic Lunatic Fringe" who spring into action and attack anything that detracts from their "party line".
They will throw out statements like "proven to be discredited" and "not evidence-based"like confetti in the breeze.
The irony of their efforts is that their own statements are not evidence-based, nor are the people involved qualified in any medical discipline. Some statements border on defamation, while others are just outright lies.
One critic making comment on i2P calls himself a doctor.
He is entitled to do, but he is not a medical doctor, having earned his doctorate in another discipline.
Add deception for the lunatic fringe as well.

i2P would like to congratulate Judy on receiving funding to present her current research at the 3rd World Congress on Cancer Science and Therapy to be held in San Franciso in October 2013.
It may prove to be an important wake up call to governments (including the Australian government) who promote and subsidise this form of treatment.

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REGROUP, RE - GROWTH - The dawning of a new reality.

Barry Urquhart

There is an increasing awakening among business owners - big, small and micro - that the consequences of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), the end of the capital expenditure mining boom and the debt dilemmas of Europe have included unintended, undocumented and non defined changes in business cultures, philosophies, policies and practices.
Customer service standards, relationships and instances of referrals have all been adversely affected

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Eight Key Factors That Will Maximise the Value of Your Business

Chris Foster

One of the major reasons why you start and build or buy a business is to be able to sell it at some time in the future for a profit.
What are the factors that will maximise your selling price?
It's really important to understand this early so that you can put in place the necessary systems to ensure that you build a business that is saleable.

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Acute low back pain - does anything help?

Loretta Marron OAM BSc

Most of us experience low back pain (LBP). When it persists, we look for ways to alleviate it. In Australia, back problems are the most frequently seen musculoskeletal condition by General Practitioners (GPs) and the seventh most common reason for seeking care. National guidelines from the UK suggest that patients should try acupuncture, manual therapy or an exercise program. A range of medical devices are promoted for pain relief. Are they all placebo treatments or do some work?

Comments: 1

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Ex-Patient and a Consultant in Pharmacy Automation

Mark Neuenschwander

My name is Mark Neuenschwander. I have been a patient and I am a consultant in the field of pharmacy automation.
It was 27 years ago that Wrigley's opened the door by putting a barcode on a pack of chewing gum. It was really a statement of faith because grocery stores and drugstores didn't have scanners.  But their faith was not in vain.  Within a decade, virtually every item on the shelves of those drugstores and supermarkets had a barcode, and the vast majority of checkout stands were equipped with scanners to read them.

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Learning business and life lessons at the Farm

Harvey Mackay

I’ve always been a city boy – I can’t even coax a weed to grow.
But I discovered a national treasure, practically in my own back yard, which makes me wish my thumbs were greener.

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AMA Predictably Reacts to Grattan Institute Primary Care Plan

Neil Johnston

It was predictable that Steve Hambledon, AMA president, would be negative to the primary health care solutions as proposed in the Grattan Report published recently.
In my response to the paper Access All Areas co-authored by Stephen Duckett, I pointed out that having pharmacists involved in areas of diagnosis and prescribing produces an extreme response from the AMA plus inferred derogatory comments relating to pharmacy.
As I said in my response, pharmacists are fed up with the medical profession.

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Staff Researcher

Editor's Note: Recently, in my own home town, the Cancer Council organisation decided to change location to a new office approximately 45 minutes away. The office was  well fitted out with quality furniture and computer equipment, plus miscellaneous office items that included filing cabinets, shredders and photocopiers.
The surprised incoming tenant (an allied health professional) was told that she was now the proud owner of all these assets free of charge so that the Cancer Council could avoid the problems and costs of cartage and storage of the above items.
The value of all the items was estimated at around $25,000.
Needless to say the offer was gratefully accepted but I personally, no longer donate to Cancer Council charity programs.

It seems that in different forms, this phenomenon may be global.

OHMS Newsletter October 11, 2013.
Commentary by Ralph Campbell M.D.
Recently, our local paper promoted a 3K walk/run for "a cure for heart disease" with photos of participants of all sizes and shapes.
For enjoying the camaraderie and the feeling of sacrifice for a good cause, the participants paid a $25 entry fee that went to the American Heart Association (AHA) to promote awareness.

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3D Printing Will Change the Face of Medicine and Pharmacy

Neil Johnston

Pharmacy could be on the verge of a very exciting and rewarding professional pathway with some useful research being conducted in Scotland where 3D printing technology is being married up with stem cells and genomics to produce your own tissue for personalised drug testing and then modifying your drug to create a smooth journey through any lifestyle disorder anticipated in your genes.
The printing technology is cheap.
To create a professional business opportunity, all you are required to do is prepare yourself over the next five years by absorbing suitable education and plotting some medium term investment.
i2P believes that this technology is so important that pharmacy leadership groups should begin immediately to seize the high ground for this issue and not let the opportunities slip away to other health practitioners.
It will be one of the best opportunities to have a "hands-on" participation at the centre of primary health services.

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Health insurance start-up secures VC funding

Staff Writer

Editor's Note: We have previously highlighted Covad Health Insurance as a product pharmacists should consider supporting.
Health insurance has always had a natural fit with pharmacy and there is no doubt that if pharmacists get behind this product, it will be a major success.
The income stream available as commissions on premiums would be a welcome addition in these times of difficulty in achieving financial stability and well-being.
i2P believes that this could also represent an opportunity for a health insurance business to advocate for, and champion, pharmacy clinical services and develop a real working partnership.
That might represent a promising future for both sides of the relationship equation.

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Mental Health Week – pharmacists looking after pharmacists

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

Editor's Note: It is becoming quite noticeable that business confidence has depleted in pharmacy ranks since economic environments have become tougher.
Poor leadership has also made a contribution.
As conditions for pharmacy employers and employees tighten, stress-related illness begins to emerge as everyone adjusts to the new economic uncertainties.
Depression is the outcome of prolonged stress and anxiety.

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Baby's Neck Not Broken by a Chiropractor

Mark Coleman

Recently, newspaper reports have surfaced relating to an incident involving the chiropractic treatment of a young child.
It was reported that a four-month-old Melbourne baby sustained a fracture to the upper cervical vertebra following an adjustment
In both Sydney and Melbourne papers, an allegation was made that a Chiropractor broke the baby’s neck. The CAA issued a release to all media outlets in all States within hours of the publication rejecting the allegation.
The allegation was subsequently investigated by AHPRA. No finding of inappropriate treatment was made. No finding was made that any treatment performed by the Chiropractor caused a fracture as alleged.

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Professional Pharmacists Pay Tribute to Carol Bennett

Professional Pharmacists Australia Spokesperson

Professional Pharmacists Australia today congratulated Carol Bennett on her time as the CEO of the Community Health Forum, wishing her all the best in her future endeavours.

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Observations on implementing pharmacy clinical services

Peter Sayers

It’s not easy implementing a clinical service program and success is related as to how close the service offered is to traditional dispensing and counselllng services.
Also how long a pharmacist has personally known a patient and how trusted the relationship is with that particular patient.
It shows how much pharmacists have collectively fallen down, because I have found strong relationships are sparse in my own world, and those of my colleagues.
Any attempt to fast-track a relationship is viewed with suspicion and apparent mistrust.
So it’s the long haul that has to be put in place first and forward pharmacy has to be implemented and seen to be in place, well before a new service is able to be sold.

Comments: 1

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3D Printing Will be Disruptive for Vaccine Manufacturers

Staff Writer

Editor's Comment: What pharmacy leadership organisation has the role of actually driving pharmacy practice?
The number of real opportunities (including that of 3D printing as illustrated in the following article) are multiplying as new disruptive technologies emerge.
3D printing represents the ultimate in drug compounding and pharmacy needs to be front and centre here.
How can these technologies be harnessed and absorbed into some form of future pharmacy strategy
that could really advance the profession of pharmacy instead of perpetually "running on the spot"?
Surely there is some sort of practice research going on?

Comments: 3

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Turning plastic bags into high-tech materials

Staff Researcher

University of Adelaide researchers have developed a process for turning waste plastic bags into a high-tech nanomaterial.
The innovative nanotechnology uses non-biodegradable plastic grocery bags to make 'carbon nanotube membranes' ? highly sophisticated and expensive materials with a variety of potential advanced applications including filtration, sensing, energy storage and a range of biomedical innovations.

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Research shows huge potential of sweet sorghum as a multi-product crop

Staff Researcher

A new Australian-based research study into sweet sorghum has shown the huge potential of the crop as a single source of energy, food and animal feed.
Sweet sorghum is receiving significant global interest because of its potential as a multi-product crop, however there has been minimal research under Australian growing conditions or using Australian processing facilities, until now.

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Converting Hand-Written Notes to Digital Notes

Staff Writer

Pharmacists have always been notorious for their penchant for leaving "sticky" notes attached to dispensing benches, cash registers and various other places. While efficient for the moment, long-term display of old notes looks very untidy and eventually deteriorates to inefficiency.
The cloud-based productivity tool, Evernote, (which I believe is a pharmacy essential) has extended its reach into another important branch of note-taking through a partnership with the classic 3M Post-It Notes. In a move similar to the Evernote Moleskine notebook, which was released last year, the note-taking and organization software company is blurring the line between digital and analog again, enabling users to preserve their real-world jottings and access them from anywhere.

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Common Symptom Guide - Android App Review

Staff Writer

Purpose of App Review

 * to review the utility of Common Symptom Guide App for a clinician
 * to evaluate the medical evidence this App uses

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Pharmacist Scope-of-Practice Bill Now Law

Staff Writer

Editor's Note:
The world's legislator's are finally waking up and discovering a very useful and economic health worker called a pharmacist.
Continually overlooked because of medical lobbying, it looks as though medicos are finally pricing themselves out of business.
Initiated in California, a new bill allowing a wider scope of practice in primary health care has been passed and is likely to spread throughout the US and most western economies.
I have often commented in i2P that pharmacists started to become invisible in primary health care around the year2000, and despite energetic lobbying by pharmacy leadership groups, the debate seemed to be consigned to oblivion.
The wheel is turning finally and we may yet see an energetic and useful health system evolve from pharmacy ranks.

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Consumers Health Forum CEO announces resignation

Staff Writer

As a sometimes controversial figure to some leadership segments of pharmacy, Carol Bennett attempted to inflict change upon pharmacy that was not always well-founded.
She co-opted two other partner organisations to assist, both known to be anti-pharmacy in sentiment.
A petition was organised by the CHF to promote their point of view, but it was a dismal failure beside the Pharmacy Guild petition promoting a somewhat opposite view (over 1 million signatures).
On top of this, early enquiries by pharmacists wishing to join the CHF uncovered the fact that the CHF was not a representative forum for individual consumers at all, but an aggregate of large associations and businesses whose interests would not necessarily reflect those of individual consumers.

Comments: 3

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SHPA thanks Carol Bennett

Staff Writer

By Suzanne Newman

SHPA is sad to learn that Carol Bennett has resigned as CEO of the Consumers Health Forum.
SHPA has enjoyed a good working relationship with Carol and has valued her leadership and advocacy for health consumers.

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International digital media expert Jye Smith to guide industry on navigating social media at ASMI’s 2013 Conference

Marie Kelly-Davies

With social media reaching into every aspect of Australian lives, the Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI) has secured international expert Jye Smith to present key insights on “Social Media and the Healthcare Consumer” at its annual conference in Sydney on Thursday 14 November.

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Good bone health relies on calcium and vitamin D working in combination

Marie Kelly-Davies

The systematic review and meta-analysis of the effect of vitamin D supplements on bone mineral density conducted by the University of Auckland should not discourage Australians from taking a preventative approach to osteoporosis, the Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI) said today.

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Herbal medicines sold legally in Australia assured of high quality

Marie Kelly-Davies

Consumers can continue to have confidence in the quality and safety of complementary medicines (herbal medicines, nutritional and dietary supplements) that are legally sold in Australia, the Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI) has today advised.

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Advancing Complementary Medicines in Australia: International regulatory expert Michael Smith to share insights at ASMI Conferen

Marie Kelly-Davies

The Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI) will leverage the international experience of pharmacist and licenced naturopathic practitioner Michael Smith at this year’s conference to explore the evolving role of complementary medicines in preventative health.
In Australia, vitamins, mineral and supplements (known as complementary medicines) represent the largest and fastest growing segment in the non-prescription sector, with two-thirds of Australians taking them regularly to optimise their health and wellbeing.1

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3D Printing Will be Disruptive for Vaccine Manufacturers

Staff Writer

Editor's Comment: What pharmacy leadership organisation has the role of actually driving pharmacy practice?
The number of real opportunities (including that of 3D printing as illustrated in the following article) are multiplying as new disruptive technologies emerge.
3D printing represents the ultimate in drug compounding and pharmacy needs to be front and centre here.
How can these technologies be harnessed and absorbed into some form of future pharmacy strategy
that could really advance the profession of pharmacy instead of perpetually "running on the spot"?
Surely there is some sort of practice research going on?

Comments: 3

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Primary Health Care and Pharmacy Clinical Services

Neil Johnston

Editor’s Note:

Pharmacy leaders, academics and education providers have suddenly become alert and attentive to a paper recently released by the Grattan Institute.
Although I personally remain cynical as to where the recommendations within that paper (titled Access All Areas ) will take pharmacy, nonetheless it has created a spark of activity across an otherwise bleak landscape.

Governments have long squandered opportunities that have been available to them through the profession of pharmacy.
This has probably come about because of the top heavy list of advisers drawn from the medical profession over a long period of time.

Could this be a signal that policies may finally be changing to embrace the potential that pharmacists could be unleashed over the primary health care community.

I have asked Mark Coleman to comment on the following  Pharmacy News media report item that contains a response from both the PSA and the PGA.

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NPS Media Releases for September 2013

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

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New report: Independent therapeutic advice — how achievable is it?

‘Independent therapeutic advice: how achievable is it?’ — a report summarising the proceedings of the Independence Forum hosted by Therapeutic Guidelines Ltd — was published this month on the Australian Prescriber website.

The forum brought together national and international experts and ethicists to discuss and debate issues of independence and conflicts of interest in the context of therapeutic information for health professionals, especially prescribers.

The two eminent overseas speakers at the Independence Forum, Professor Silvio Garattini from the Mario Negri Institute in Italy and Assistant Professor Barbara Mintzes from University of British Columbia, Canada, reflected the importance of this global issue.

Some of the thought-provoking – and at times controversial – issues covered were:

  • the suitability of current sources of research funding
  • the strengths and limitations of conventional concepts of evidence and whether the evidence base can be relied upon
  • the need for appropriate degrees of separation between experts involved in guideline development and their interests. 

The report puts forward recommendations to improve the quality of the evidence base and trustworthiness of guidelines. Specifically, the recommendations include issues such as the need for public funding of clinical trials and reforms of regulatory requirements relating to new drugs, and improvements in critical appraisal skills and the management of competing interests.  

The report will be of interest to:

  • organisations involved in developing or using guidelines
  • lecturers responsible for the teaching of therapeutics and evidence-based medicine
  • health policy makers who rely on guidelines to make decisions
  • health professionals who use guidelines as a basis for their decision-making.

The conference report is published as a supplement to Australian Prescriber and is available at http://www.australianprescriber.com/supplement/36/2/1/48 .



A new NPS MedicineWise health professional educational program launched today looks at the complex issues that contribute to the disproportionate number of medicine-related adverse events and hospital admissions experienced by older Australians.

NPS MedicineWise clinical adviser Dr Philippa Binns says the program will provide effective strategies to assist pharmacists manage polypharmacy and prevent medicine-related problems in patients aged 75 and over..

“the proportion of older Australians aged 75 years of more taking multiple medicines is double that of those aged 50-64 years. This reflects the increasing number and complexity of  comorbidities that occur with age, but by taking more medicines older people also have a higher risk of adverse events,” says Dr Binns.

“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. Sometimes this may require medicines to be stopped.”

The new NPS MedicineWise educational program Older and wiser: promoting safe use of medicines in older people has launched today with the release of the September edition of Medicinewise News.

The program and the new publication highlight the risks associated with medicines use in older people and provide strategies to help manage these risks to ensure the benefits of medicines are realised.

Importantly NPS MedicineWise is encouraging all health professionals, including pharmacists, to adopt a coordinated approach to medicines management as an important aspect of a care plan for an older person, and to engage older people, their family and carers as active partners in health decisions.

“Medicines are an essential component of care in older people and medicines safety is best achieved in partnership with them since they are the ones having to manage their health and medicines on a daily basis,” says Dr Binns.

The new issue of Medicinewise News looks at how the highly individual and varied way older people age influences their health needs which in turn define goals for treatment or prevention. It also examines the importance of documenting medicines management and follow up as part of the overall care plan for an older person.

“There’s not much that can be done to modify ageing-related physiological changes that make responses to medicines in older people less predictable, so it is essential to promptly detect and mitigate complications as they arise,” she says.

“The new NPS MedicineWise educational program encourages health professionals to consider current medicines as the cause of new symptoms before looking elsewhere — don’t assume symptoms relate to old age.”

“Pharmacists play an important role in recognising when medicines carry a substantially higher risk of adverse events or when medicines have no clear evidence-based indication for use in older people.”

There are also particular opportunities for pharmacists to improve patient adherence, for example through recommending packaging aids which may improve outcomes for certain conditions.

“Remember that some non-adherence is intentional (for example if someone is not convinced about the need for the medicine, if they are trying to avoid adverse drug reactions or to avoid taking too many medicines) but it may also be unintentional (perhaps as a result of misunderstanding, confusion or forgetfulness).

A Pharmacy Practice Review will be available as part of the program in the early part of 2014. Pharmacists who wish to be alerted when the new activity is available can subscribe to the ’For Pharmacists‘ e-alert at www.nps.org.au/hporders.

For more information about the new program Older and wiser: promoting safe use of medicines in older people, resources and regular program updates visit www.nps.org.au/medicines-in-older-people/


September 2 2013
Communities encouraged to be medicinewise this Multicultural Health Week

Every year, thousands of people are hospitalised because of medicine-related problems. Interactions between medicines, accidentally doubling up on a dose, and adverse effects are some of the factors that can result in hospitalisation. Many of these incidents are potentially avoidable.

This is why Multicultural Health Week this year is putting the spotlight on medication safety. This year’s theme “working together for safe, quality care” focuses on medication safety as part of the National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards.

The week aims to raise awareness about the importance of communication between healthcare professionals and their patients, and the impact good communication can have on improving medication safety.

The NSW Multicultural Health Communication Service is coordinating Multicultural Health Week as a state-wide activity and this year has partnered with the Clinical Excellence Commission and NPS MedicineWise in consultation with Multicultural Health Services in Local Health Districts across NSW.

NPS MedicineWise Executive Manager of Program Delivery, Gloria Antonio, said millions of people take medicines each day, but knowing as much as possible about their medicines can help to avoid medicine mishaps.

“No medicine is completely free of side effects, but asking your health professional questions and finding out as much as you can about your medicines will help you understand the risks and benefits, avoid side effects, and enjoy better health,” she said.

“Everyone has a role to play in their own health care and safety. We encourage people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds to ask for a free professionally trained interpreter when you’re in hospital or at a doctor’s appointment, keep a list of regular medicines you take including any complementary or traditional medicines, and bring the list to the hospital with you,” Ms Antonio said.

With the increasing diversity of patients in Australia there is a need to address culture and language within the health system.

Professor Cliff Hughes, Chief Executive Officer Clinical Excellence Commission said that health professionals have an active role to play in ensuring that they assess their patient’s cultural and linguistic needs, obtain informed consent and consider their health beliefs, needs and values.

Professor Hughes emphasised that the health system is responsible for keeping all patients, including those from multicultural backgrounds, safe by providing interpreters, access to multilingual information resources, and using techniques such as the Teach Back method, which allows clinicians to gauge a patient’s understanding of the health information they’ve received.

Mr Peter Todaro, Director of the NSW Multicultural Health Communication Service encourages all healthcare organisations to continue to develop and use in-language health resources as part of their daily care of multicultural patients.

For more information, visit www.multiculturalhealthweek.com


Monday, 2 September 2013


Jillian Skinner MP

Minister for Health

Minister for Medical Research


Enhancing communication about medication safety in languages other than English is

at the very heart of Multicultural Health Week, Minister for Health Jillian Skinner and

Minister for Citizenship and Communities Victor Dominello said today.

Mrs Skinner said this year’s Multicultural Health Week, which kicks off today, focuses

on the benefits of better communication to improve awareness of medication sideeffects

for multicultural patients.

The 2013 Multicultural Health Week theme is working together for safe, quality care.

“Medication safety is incredibly important for both patients and their family members

and I’m pleased to see this issue under the spotlight for the benefit and well-being of

multicultural communities across the state,” Mrs Skinner said.

“Evidence suggests that multicultural patients, especially those with limited English,

are at a significantly higher risk of harm than patients who speak English well. For

multicultural patients, 49 per cent of incidents result in some physical harm, which is

20 per cent higher than English-speaking patients.

“It is estimated there are 190,000 medication-related hospital admissions every year in


“Multicultural communities will have access to health information and services in their

language on safer use of medicines.

“Multicultural Health Week is a wonderful opportunity for CALD communities to learn

more about the key role they have in determining their own health care and safety.”

Mr Dominello said 25 per cent of NSW residents are born overseas and 40 per cent

have at least one parent born outside Australia.

“Language and culture impact on patient safety and this is particularly important when

encouraging health professionals to use key techniques in dealing with multicultural

patients,” Mr Dominello said.

“By using interpreters, doctors and health workers can reduce the risk of harm,

improve patient outcomes and better support patients from multicultural backgrounds

and other patients with low health literacy.


“Posters and flyers have been produced for health care workers in major hospitals

promoting multicultural health week and tips for health care professionals to improve

medication safety for patients,” Mr Dominello said.

Print advertisements in Arabic, Chinese, Greek, Italian and Vietnamese will appear in

major ethnic papers a about how patients have a role in their own health care and

safety. These print advertisements will also carry tips on medication safety.

Radio advertisements will be broadcast in Arabic, Cantonese, Mandarin, Greek, Italian

and Vietnamese.

A number of activities have been organised across the state to raise awareness about

the effect of miscommunication between health care professionals and patients and

the impact of medication safety incidents including discussions in Arabic, Cantonese,

Greek, Korean, Italian, Mandarin and Vietnamese as well as other languages.

Since 2009, the NSW Multicultural Health Communication Service (MHCS) has been

funded by NSW Government to coordinate Multicultural Health Week as a state-wide


This year, the Multicultural Health Communication Service has partnered with the

Clinical Excellence Commission (CEC) and NPS MedicineWise in consultation with

multicultural health services in Local Health Districts across NSW.

For more information on Multicultural Health Week visit




NPS MedicineWise is reiterating safety messages around the newer anticoagulants dabigatran (Pradaxa) and apixaban (Eliquis) following their PBS listing for preventing stroke on 1 September 2013 – and again for rivaxabaran (Xarelto) which was PBS listed in August for the same purpose.

These medicines will be subsidised by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) for preventing stroke in people with non-valvular atrial fibrillation, and may offer alternatives for some people.

However, NPS MedicineWise clinical adviser Dr Andrew Boyden emphasises that there are risks associated with taking these medicines and that health professionals should seek up to date information to help inform conversations with patients about their options.
“We’re encouraging consumers who are already taking an oral anticoagulant to prevent stroke to talk to their doctor if they want to know more about the newer oral anticoagulants because — like all medicines — there are risks as well as benefits involved in taking them, but this is particularly important in the case of anticoagulants,” he says.

To assist health professionals in navigating the new options, NPS MedicineWise has developed a new decision tool about switching oral anticoagulants which covers recommended dosing and timing for patients switching from warfarin, to warfarin, or from a newer oral anticoagulant to an alternative newer oral anticoagulant.

Dr Boyden says that one of the main principles of safe switching with anticoagulants is to ensure continuous, adequate anticoagulation while minimising bleeding risk.

Some tips for prescribers in the decision support tool include:

  • remember that although all newer anticoagulants can contribute to an elevated INR, the INR is not a measure of their anticoagulant effect;
  • make sure clear instructions are provided to the patient to avoid missed or double doses during switching;
  • advise patients to return any oral anticoagulant medicine no longer required to their doctor or pharmacist for safe disposal when switching is completed.

NPS MedicineWise is also urging all health professionals to ensure patients are aware of the risks of the newer oral anticoagulants, including that unlike warfarin, if bleeding occurs while taking one of the newer anticoagulants, there is currently no way to reverse it quickly.

“Consumers are being encouraged to talk to their doctor to be educated on the signs of bleeding that they should be aware of and when they should see their doctor or go to the hospital emergency department,” says Dr Boyden. 

“Health professionals can help people understand that although those taking the newer oral anticoagulants don’t need regular INR blood tests, there is currently no equivalent test to monitor how well these medicines are working, and that regular clinical monitoring is still necessary.

“And importantly, we’re urging people not to stop taking their current anticoagulant suddenly without medical advice, as this could put them at risk of stroke.”

To help health professionals and consumers find more information and make informed decisions about the newer anticoagulant medicines available on the PBS, NPS MedicineWise has published information on its website at www.nps.org.au/anticoagulants. This information includes recent NPS RADAR articles on dabigatran, rivaroxaban and apixaban, resources from the current NPS MedicineWise educational program, as well as decision support tools to assist good anticoagulant practice.

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