Recognising pharmacists providing diabetes support

Wednesday 15 July 2020


People with diabetes make up to 180 diabetes-related health decisions every day – amassing to over 65,000 individual decisions a year.  This National Diabetes Week 2020 is focused on mental and emotional health issues faced by individuals with diabetes.


The Heads Up on Diabetes campaign is aimed at raising awareness of this burden and recognising the vital support being provided to people with diabetes by Australian Pharmacists and Pharmacist diabetes educators.


The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) is taking stock to recognise the important relationship between a person who has diabetes, their pharmacist and health care team.


Credentialled diabetes educator and pharmacist Kirrily Chambers said Pharmacists are 7-14 times more likely than any other health care professional to see people with health conditions therefore are in the best position to talk to people with diabetes about their concerns and help them navigate their diabetes.


“Understanding diabetes is a complex and complicated health condition, and most people learn in their own time,” she said.


“Pharmacists can help in this journey since they will normally see the person frequently and knowing when to refer is also a critical part of the health care team.


“Pharmacists help patients understand why they are taking their medication and that type 2 diabetes is a progressive condition which means over time they will need an increase in dose of tablets and maybe long term insulin.”


Ms Chambers also addressed how pharmacists help diabetes patients with their mental and emotional health.


“Like any health professional it is very important that we are careful with our language with individuals with diabetes so as not to make a person feel guilty for having it,” she said.


“Correct language, I believe, is one way we can help reduce the mental burden of chronic health conditions including diabetes and if pharmacists make correct language a focus, we remove the guilt and open channels of communication which allows people to feel comfortable to ask questions and learn more when they need to.”


As part of National Diabetes Week the Federal Government announced a $47 million investment in research to help fast track new treatments for diabetes and heart disease, also recently extending funding for the National Diabetes Service Scheme for a further 12 months.


PSA National President Associate Professor Chris Freeman welcomed the announcement and praised the role of pharmacists in treating and caring for people with diabetes.


“Pharmacists play a very important role as part of the diabetes care team from screening for the disease through to treatment and medication management,” he said.


“As medicines experts pharmacists assist people with diabetes in understanding their diabetes medicines, improve self-monitoring, and blood glucose control ultimately reducing the risk of a patient developing complications associated with diabetes.


“The delivery of MedsChecks services encourages pharmacists to work collaboratively with the person with diabetes, prescriber and other relevant members of the healthcare team to enhance patient care as well as support the physical and mental wellbeing of patients.


“It is important that diabetes week helps shine a light on the physical and mental health challenges faced by those suffering from all types of diabetes which can lead to meaningful discussion about the impacts diabetes can have on a patient’s physical and mental wellbeing.”


“I strongly encourage all patients living with diabetes to makes sure they are connected with their pharmacist as part of their broader healthcare team.”


Media contact: PSA Media 0487 922 176

New Training Modules to support QUM services

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) has developed three online CPD modules to support pharmacists in providing optimal Quality Use of Medicines (QUM) services to residential aged care facilities.


The three modules which all cover key topics relevant to these services are Providing a QUM service, Psychotropic medicines and Antimicrobial stewardship.


PSA National President Associate Professor Chris Freeman said these modules would greatly assist pharmacists in providing QUM services to our most vulnerable in aged care facilities.


“These modules will assist pharmacists to lift the bar in providing these services according to best practice and support the Guidelines for Quality Use of Medicines (QUM) services which were updated and released in April this year,” he said.


“Our recent Medicine Safety: Aged Care report found that over 95 percent of people living in aged care facilities have at least one problem with their medicines detected at the time of a medicines review with most having at least three problems.”


“Pharmacists have an incredibly important role to play in reducing medication-related harm and ensuring medicines are used safely and appropriately.”

To accompany the modules, a suite of resources have been developed to assist pharmacists in providing QUM services.


These resources include audit tools for psychotropic medicines and antimicrobials, sample informed consent form, sample letter to prescribers on antimicrobial prescribing and use, staff presentations and fact sheets on psychotropic medicines and antimicrobials.


Also included are fact sheets for GPs, medical specialists and aged care staff on changes to HMR/RMMR rules (including referral and follow-ups), QUM Plan template and Sample QUM.


These guidelines have been developed with funding provided by the Australian Government Department of Health and can be found at:


Media contact: PSA Media: 0487 922 176

PSOTY state winners vie for national honours

State finalists have been selected for the 2020 Mylan Pharmacy Student of the Year (PSOTY) award, with the national competition to be held on Saturday July 18.


Students from all states competed against their peers to demonstrate their pharmacy knowledge and counselling techniques from which one finalist from each state was chosen to take part in the national event.


PSA National President Associate Professor Chris Freeman said the PSOTY award gives pharmacy students the chance to showcase their skills to their peers and the wider profession.


“The caliber of students competing this year is incredibly high and I congratulate all the state winners who will be competing in the national competition,” he said.


“These awards encourage pharmacy students to learn and grow and provides an opportunity for them to further explore the role they will play as pharmacists.”


Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the finals will be run live via webinar with the students to be presented with a patient who will act out a variety of symptoms.


Students will be able to ask the patient questions to find out more information and will then recommend a course of treatment and provide counselling advice with the panel of judges to pick the winning student as well as a winner chosen by the audience viewing online.


The winner will receive funding for pharmacy-specific education.



Emily Stevenson: University of Technology Sydney (NSW)

Thomas Duong: Monash University (VIC)

Batul Al Shakarji: James Cook University (QLD)

Emma Dunham: University of Tasmania (Tas)

Yik Xiian Chai: University of South Australia (SA)

Kurtis Gray: University of Western Australia (WA)

Melinda James (Wildcard winner – Qld)


Media contact: PSA Media: 0487 922 176

PSA highlights unnecessary barriers in QLD COVID-19 submission

Tuesday 7 July 2020


The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia’s (PSA) submission to the Health, Communities, Disability Services and Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Committee inquiry into the Queensland Government’s health response to COVID-19 highlights the serious challenges faced by pharmacists in Queensland during the pandemic.


Pharmacists across the state rose to the challenge of COVID-19, remaining open to ensure the community had physical access to critical health services and quality medicines.


PSA’s submission outlines the key issues faced by pharmacists, particularly barriers which restricted pharmacists from providing patients the best possible care during the pandemic along with recommendations to ensure limitations can be transformed into future benefits for Queenslanders.


Key issues highlighted in the submission centre around legislative disparities, lack of access to personal protective equipment and management and communication of medicine shortages.


PSA Queensland Branch President, Shane MacDonald said while the Queensland Government’s overall health response helped contain the pandemic there are areas where improvements can be made to ensure that Queensland patients and families are better protected in the future.


“Pharmacists and their staff felt forgotten by the Government during this pandemic and it is disappointing that pharmacy leaders and pharmacists were not always fully consulted when policy and implementation decisions were being made,” he said.


“There are over 1200 community pharmacies in Queensland and as far as PSA is aware not a single one closed during the pandemic, remaining open to provide care, immunisations, medicines and supplies to all Queenslanders.


“It is necessary that we not only raise concerns but provide recommendations to ensure Queenslanders are better protected in the future or during a second wave of COVID-19.”


In the submission, PSA provided 11 recommendations including a mechanism to consult with PSA on matters relating to the supply of therapeutic goods, the appointment of a Queensland Chief Pharmacist, uniform legislations across all jurisdictions in consultation with other state and territories and adequate supply of personal protective equipment for hospital and community pharmacists and pharmacy staff.


Mr MacDonald said he hopes the submission will highlight the good work of pharmacists and pharmacy staff in Queensland under extreme pressure during the COVID-19 pandemic.


“I am extremely proud of how the profession stood up and cared for the community during the pandemic and hope the recommendations lead to positive change going forward that will better allow pharmacists to care for their patients in Queensland.”


To view the submission please visit:


Media contact: PSA media 0487 922 176

PSA welcomes new Rural Health Commissioner

Friday 3 July 2020


Rural health advocate, medical practitioner and researcher Associate Professor Ruth Stewart has been appointed as Australia’s next National Rural Health Commissioner (NRHC).


The Federal Government recently extended and expanded the office of the NRHC which will also see a broader focus to allied health including pharmacy in rural and remote areas.


Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) National President Associate Professor Chris Freeman welcomed the announcement, congratulating A/Prof Stewart on her appointment.


“Associate Professor Stewart brings a wealth of experience to this role and we look forward to working with her on behalf of pharmacists to improve rural health outcomes around Australia,” he said.


“As the most accessible healthcare provider, pharmacists are well-placed to perform a much greater role in Australia’s rural and remote communities.


“Highlighted in PSA’s Pharmacists in 2023, it is important to align incentives for pharmacists to support rural and remote communities as well as equip pharmacists with skills and knowledge to deliver closing-the-gap initiatives for indigenous Australian’s.”


“Importantly reducing unnecessary barriers to the Closing the Gap PBS Co-payment Measure has been identified within the 7th Community Pharmacy Agreement.


“PSA also welcomes the intent to expand the Rural Pharmacy Maintenance Allowance within the 7th Community Pharmacy Agreement to the modified Monash Model classification which will increase the eligibility for an additional 800 pharmacies.”


Following the NRC Discussion Paper for Consultation: Rural Allied Health Quality Access and Distribution late last year, PSA called for a number of actions to address the unique needs of the rural pharmacy workforce.”


A/Prof Freeman said it is important to prioritise the support that is available to rural pharmacists who play such an important role in the healthcare system.


“Unless we prioritise the support that is available to our rural practitioners, we will potentially lose our rural pharmacists and a crucial level of service delivery,” he said.


“As part of the Seventh Community Pharmacy Agreement $24.6 million has been allocated to rural support programs which is a good step forward.”


“PSA look forward to working with Government on these programs as well as progressing regional and rural health reforms with the NRHC and other healthcare bodies.”


Media contact: PSA Media: 0487 922 176

Continued dispensing arrangements extended

Wednesday July 1


The Federal Government has announced from today it will extend the temporary Continued Dispensing Emergency Measures until at least 30 September 2020, allowing Australians to continue to access essential medicines at PBS prices if their prescription has run out.


Medicines supplied under this arrangement must have been previously prescribed and be for the continuation of current essential treatment where it is impractical to obtain a prescription.


Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) National President Associate Professor Chris Freeman welcomed the announcement and once again urged the Government to make continued dispensing arrangements permanent.


“This is a commonsense decision by the Federal Government with COVID-19 still posing a considerable risk in many parts of Australia,” he said.


“While the extension of the continued dispensing emergency arrangements is pleasing, PSA will continue to call for emergency supply provisions of this nature to be made standard practice.


“It is important that patients requiring chronic therapy are supported in emergency situations and can continue to receive their medication.


“All Australians for that matter need to be confident they can access vital medicines when faced with an emergency or disaster.”


A/Prof Freeman said PSA has been working with the Government to ensure all Australians can access essential medicines during the COVID-19 pandemic.


“We will continue to work with Federal, State and Territory Governments during and after the COVID-19 pandemic to implement nationally consistent emergency supply provisions.”


“As front line health professionals, it is important that pharmacists have the necessary tools to ensure they can meet the health care needs of their patients and the community in a timely manner.”


Media contact: 0487 922 176

Improved access to important medicines in QLD

Thursday 25 June 2020


Queenslanders will now have improved access to oral contraceptives and medicinal cannabis following legislative amendments made by the Queensland Government.


While women have been able to access a supply of PBS subsidised oral contraceptive without a valid repeat prescription since 2012, this amendment will provide access to non-PBS subsidised brands of oral contraceptives.


Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) Queensland Branch President Shane MacDonald welcomed the amendment that will help address the inequity of access to oral contraceptives.


“Enabling the supply of all brands of oral contraceptives to women, under similar circumstances to those stipulated in the PBS Continued Dispensing Determination is a common sense approach by the Queensland Government, he said.


“It is important that women in Queensland are able to access the brand of oral contraceptive they require when there is an immediate need for the supply to allow for continued treatment.”


The Queensland Government also announced it has made an amendment allowing all Queensland medical practitioners to prescribe schedule 8 and schedule 4 medicinal cannabis without the requirement to have a Queensland Health approval.


Previously, only specialist medical practitioners were able to prescribe these medicines without first applying for Queensland Health approval.


Mr MacDonald said this amendment will remove duplication in the approval process and simplify prescribing of medicinal cannabis.


“Decreasing the administrative burden and improving access to medicinal cannabis is an important step to ensure patients continue to access cannabis products legally,” he said.


“Any process that removes red tape and allows pharmacists and prescribers to focus on clinical care and medication safety, ultimately leads to better outcomes for patients and more efficient use of resource.


Approval from Queensland Health is still required when prescribing a schedule 8 medicinal cannabis product for a drug dependent person and the usual approval process for prescribing controlled drugs applies.


Media contact: PSA Queensland Branch President: Chris Campbell 0422 845 836

Nominations open to recognise pharmacist excellence

Thursday 25 June 2020


Nominations are now open for the 2020 Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) Symbion Excellence awards and MIMs Intern Pharmacist of the year award.


The awards recognise and applaud outstanding pharmacists including the Pharmacist of the year, Early Career Pharmacist of the year, Lifetime Achievement award and Intern Pharmacist of the year.


PSA National President Associate Professor Chris Freeman encouraged all pharmacists to nominate themselves or their peers for these prestigious awards.


“2020 has been an extraordinary year, one where pharmacists have gone above and beyond to serve the community, PSA wants to acknowledge you and to highlight the very best our profession had achieved this year,” he said.


“The Excellence and Intern Pharmacist of the year awards focus on pharmacists who have exemplified a contribution to the profession and have maintained the highest standards of commitment and professionalism.”


“There have been countless examples of pharmacists who continue to go above and beyond in this terrific profession and it is great to be able to recognise some of them in this way.”


The MIMs Intern Pharmacist of the year will receive a prize of $5000 with all three Symbion Excellence Award winners to receive $9000 to spend on PSA conferences, courses, membership or subscriptions.


Nominations close on Thursday 16 July 2020 with the winners to be announced as part of World Pharmacist Day on September 25 2020.


To nominate yourself or another pharmacist online please visit the following link:


For further information:


Media contact: 0487 922 176


QLD women can now access immediate treatment for UTI’s through community pharmacies

Queensland women will now be able to seek immediate advice and treatment, inclusive of the supply of antibiotics when appropriate, for uncomplicated Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) through their local community pharmacy. With one in two Australian women experiencing a UTI in their lifetime1, being able to receive early, convenient and effective treatment from their local participating community pharmacy is a huge advancement for women’s health.


The Urinary Tract Infection Pharmacy Pilot – Queensland (UTIPP-Q) reached a key milestone today with the Queensland Government releasing the Drug Therapy Protocol – Pharmacist UTI Trial. The endorsed model of care enables eligible community pharmacists participating in the pilot to provide empirical treatment to non-pregnant women with acute uncomplicated cystitis, through the supply of antibiotics.


The Drug Therapy Protocol is another positive step forward for the historic pilot, which has already seen success with a large majority of community pharmacies to participate across Queensland.


The  Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) Queensland Branch Manager Chris Campbell said the quality and skill of pharmacists in Queensland has been clearly demonstrated and supported by the Queensland Department of Health with this pilot.


“This brings access to Queensland women a service already successful in other countries and is welcomed with the back drop of COVID19, a time when pharmacists have kept the doors open to provide quality primary healthcare to Queenslanders.”


Professor Lisa Nissen from QUT, Pilot and Consortium Lead said “this is another fantastic opportunity for pharmacists to increase their contribution to patient care in the community. We are looking forward to evaluating the outcomes.”


The Pharmacy Guild of Australia, Queensland, Branch President Adjunct Professor Trent Twomey thanked the Queensland Government for continuing to realise the value of community pharmacy in delivering accessible primary healthcare.


“Community  pharmacists stand prepared and waiting to increase their scope of practice and deliver more health services to Queenslanders. We have seen first-hand the importance of community pharmacy this year with consumers relying heavily on their trusted community pharmacy for healthcare advice and flu immunisation throughout the pandemic.”


“Pharmacists  complete a minimum five years of training as well as on-going, mandatory professional development and have specialist training prior to participating in the UTI Pilot3.”


Professor Twomey  said that community pharmacy is well placed to reduce unnecessary hospitalisations and strain on Government resources due to uncomplicated urinary tract infections, particularly in a time when we have seen the coronavirus pandemic impact many GP and hospital resources.

“Community  pharmacists are conveniently located across Queensland with extended opening hours and no appointments necessary. Most community pharmacies are located within 2.5km of Queenslanders, which ensures that women experiencing a UTI can be seen and treated immediately to avoid further complications that could result in hospitalisations.”


Urinary Tract Infection Pharmacy Pilot – Queensland (UTIPP-Q): The Facts


1.  Following on from Recommendation Two in the 2018 Parliamentary Inquiry into Community Pharmacy, the Queensland Department of Health opened a tender for providers to develop and implement a pilot that will allow trained community pharmacists to provide appropriate treatment for uncomplicated Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs).


2. The Pharmacy Guild of Australia, Queensland and the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia is part of a consortium led by QUT which was successful in winning the tender for the pilot. The pilot framework, clinical protocol, ethics and software platforms have been developed.


3. The pilot will be open to non-pregnant women, aged 18-65 who are deemed to have an uncomplicated urinary tract infection. Men will not be eligible to be treated as part of the pilot as symptoms are not reflective of an uncomplicated urinary tract infection. The pilot will run for two years, from Friday 19 June.


4. The pilot is open to all Queensland pharmacies that are accredited through the Quality Care Pharmacy Program (QCPP).


5. Participating pharmacists have undergone additional mandatory training to assess, diagnose and offer appropriate treatment to patients as part of the pilot. The approved online CPD training is available through both the Guild and PSA Learning and Development platform.


6. Treatment options may include a supply of antibiotics (if appropriate). If, through the screening process, the patient is deemed to not have an uncomplicated urinary tract infection, their treatment options may include a referral to a GP for further investigation, as covered in the PSA Guidance for provision of antibiotics for acute uncomplicated cystitis in females (the practice standard).


7. There is a precedent for pharmacist prescribing regarding treatment of uncomplicated urinary tract infections in other OECD countries, including NZ and UK.


8. Community pharmacy is easily accessible. In capital cities, 97% of consumers are no further than 2.5km from a community pharmacy. In regional areas, 65% of people are within 2.5 km of a pharmacy.


9. Community pharmacies are the most frequently accessed and most accessible health destination, with over 456 million individual patient visits annually and the vast majority of pharmacies open after-hours, including weekends.


10.Pharmacists are one of the most trusted professions. Public opinion surveys have shown that 84% of adults trust the advice they receive from pharmacists.


11. Community pharmacists are accessible and understand this target demographic. At 30 September 2019, there were 32,035 registered pharmacists in Australia. 62.8% of pharmacists are women; and over 60% are under 40 years of age.


  1. AIHW data, Potentially preventable hospitalisations, 2017-18, Queensland. Available at:
  2. Kidney Health Australia Fact Sheet:
  3. All participating pharmacists are required to undertake mandatory training prior to administering the service. This education is independently accredited with a Continuing Professional Development (CPD) accrediting organisation that adheres to the Australian Pharmacy Council’s (APC) Standards and Guidelines.

Media contact: PSA media: 0487 922 176


PSA Queensland Branch elect new leadership team

Friday 19 June 2020


Townsville based pharmacist Shane MacDonald has been elected as Queensland Branch President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA).


Mr MacDonald, an early career pharmacist has been a pharmacist manager for over seven years, supporting the needs of his community and has served on the PSA Queensland Branch Committee since 2017.


Mr MacDonald is a member of the Early Career Pharmacist (ECP) working group where he was the chair for two years, helping give ECP’s a voice throughout the Queensland region.


Throughout his many roles including as a panel member at the Queensland Annual Therapeutic Update speaking on PSA’s Pharmacists in 2023, Mr MacDonald has been a stern advocate for the profession at a local, state and federal level, meeting with community stake holders, local MP’s and the Prime Minister.


Mr MacDonald said it was an honour to be elected as Queensland Branch President.


“I am looking forward to working closely with the committee, key stakeholders and pharmacists in Queensland,” he said.


“I am very passionate about our profession and to be extending on the good work of the committee is a privilege.


“It is a very exciting time to be a pharmacist particularly in Queensland and I look forward to advocating and working on behalf of pharmacists in the region.”


Mr MacDonald also paid tribute to the elected Vice Presidents, Sue Carson and Dr Esther Lau.


“Sue has over 30 years of experience as a pharmacist working in hospitals and community pharmacies and has done a terrific job as acting president over the last few months,” he said.


“Sue was also a lecturer to pharmacy students at James Cook University for 14 years before relocating to Brisbane, and recently became involved with Community Transition Care at Metro North Hospital and Health Service supporting patients leaving the acute care setting to transition to their home.


“Esther has a tremendous amount of experience and is course coordinator in the discipline of Pharmacy, School of Clinical Sciences at QUT and will also bring so much to the role as Vice President.


“She has been involved in important programs such as the Queensland Pharmacist Immunisation Pilot and now the Urinary Tract Infection Pharmacy Pilot.


“I congratulate both Sue and Esther on their appointments and I am very lucky to be working with two highly skilled and knowledgeable pharmacists.”


Media contact: Queensland Branch Manager Chris Campbell: 0422 845 836