Pharmacists key to stronger primary care

18 September 2023


As the first phase of consultation opens for the Federal Government’s Unleashing the Potential of our Health Workforce Review (previously known as the “Scope of Practice Review), the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) is reaffirming its commitment to supporting pharmacists’ roles across the health system.


PSA National President Dr Fei Sim FPS said that all pharmacists in all specialty areas of practice must be empowered to work to their top of scope.


“Pharmacists practising to their top of scope is the key to stronger primary care,” Dr Sim said.


“We know that complex medicine use is on the rise, that more Australians are hospitalised due to medication misadventure, and that these trends will continue as our population ages. Allowing all pharmacists to work to our top of scope is critical to reducing medicine harm across the health system.


“We also know that we have a GP access crisis. Pharmacists, if fully supported, can go a long way to add to health system capacity, significantly improve timely access to primary health care by 26 million people who live in Australia.


“It is essential that we bring to light the full potential and worth of a pharmacist. The review should reveal the barriers impeding pharmacists practising to top of scope and remove the unnecessary and inequitable red tape hindering Australians from receiving pharmacists’ care.


“PSA is continuing to support pharmacists practising in specialised roles, including comprehensive medication management reviews like Home Medicines Review undertaken by credentialed pharmacists. As our scope of practice continues to evolve, we need to see pharmacists contributing to quality use of medicines and medicines safety wherever medicines are used.”


Chair of PSA’s Community of Speciality Interest – Interdisciplinary Team-Based Care Debbie Rigby FPS is particularly encouraging credentialed pharmacists to contribute to PSA’s submissions to the review.


“The Federal Government’s workforce review is an opportunity to highlight how credentialed pharmacists can better help optimise medication management to the full extent of their skills and training,” Ms Rigby said.


“There are many opportunities and hopes for the future including current and emerging models of care.


“Home Medicines Reviews and Residential Medication Management Reviews now have more than 25 years of practice and are entrenched in general practice, as well as clinical guidelines and resources.


“A growing number of pharmacists are working collaboratively in aged care, general practice and disability services. The Medical Services Advisory Committee (MSAC) supports funding pharmacists in First Nations Primary Health Services, and we are eagerly awaiting the implementation of the aged care on-site pharmacists program.


“However, there are still problems with access and equity across all communities, including regional, rural and remote areas and disadvantaged populations. The evolution of medication reviews requires some blue sky thinking and strong advocacy.


“Many credentialed pharmacists have a wealth of experience and have built strong and trusted relationships with GPs on the ground. I’m pleased PSA is supporting credentialed pharmacists, listening to their views and strongly advocating for their interests.


Ms Rigby encourages all credentialed pharmacists to join the Interdisciplinary Team-Based Care CSI group on Facebook, and share their views and experiences to inform PSA’s advocacy.


Dr Sim further urges all pharmacists to remain united during critical times of change in the profession.


Join the ITBC CSI group here.


Media contact:   Georgia Clarke   M: 0480 099 798      E: georgia.clarke@psa.org.au

Nation-leading partnered prescribing pilot to support Tasmanian aged care residents

14 September 2023


Joining pharmacists on R U OK? Day, Tasmanian Health Minister Guy Barnett MP announced that Tasmanian pharmacists will soon be able to prescribe medicines for aged care patients under a new pilot program following the release of recommendations from the Review of Tasmanian Pharmacists’ Scope of Practice, which have been accepted by the state government in full.


The Tasmanian Health Minister also announced that patients will soon be able to access treatment for urinary tract infections (UTIs).


Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) Tasmanian President David Peachey MPS said the move demonstrated a commitment to improving accessible care for Tasmanians.


“I am proud to see the Tasmanian Government leading the nation on reform to best support aged care patients and our broader health system,” Mr Peachey said.


“It’s clear that we need to do more for our older Australians living in residential aged care. Allowing pharmacists to write repeat prescriptions or change the dose of an existing drug will free up hundreds of GP hours for complex and emerging needs.


“Pharmacists in many parts of Australia are already initiating treatment for uncomplicated UTIs, supporting safe, timely access to care for thousands of patients,” Mr Peachey said.


“Today’s announcement brings Tasmania in line with programs around the country.


“Pharmacists have shown that we can and should be doing more to improve patients’ access to care and strengthen the health system.”


Mr Peachey has also reaffirmed PSA’s support for expanding pharmacist scope of practice to better support Tasmanians.


“The recommendations from the Scope of Practice review are a positive step toward a health system that works for patients.


“Recommendations from the review will make care more accessible for many Tasmanians, from structured prescribing to medication charting.


“This is recognition that pharmacists can and should do more as our most accessible health care professionals. This is particularly important as we mark R U OK? Day and the role that pharmacists can play in supporting patient’s mental health.


“PSA is committed to working collaboratively with the Health Minister and the Tasmanian Government to progress all recommendations as soon as possible.”


Media contact:   Georgia Clarke   M: 0480 099 798      E: georgia.clarke@psa.org.au

Recognising pharmacists’ role in strengthening health systems

14 September 2023


The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) has today launched its World Pharmacists Day campaign, marking the international date on 25 September at the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) World Congress hosted in Brisbane later this month.


This year’s theme Pharmacy Strengthening Health Systems highlights the critical role pharmacists play in supporting medicine safety, improving patient outcomes, and ensuring timely access to care.


PSA National President Dr Fei Sim FPS emphasised the significance of this year’s theme.


“Pharmacists are vital to an accessible and sustainable health care system,” Dr Sim said.


“Considering the recent health policy changes affecting our profession, more than ever before, policymakers need to acknowledge the critical role that pharmacists play for a stronger health system.


“In the lead-up to World Pharmacists Day, we are highlighting the full scope in which pharmacists practise, and the significant role we play as custodians of medicine safety.


“The role of pharmacists has expanded significantly in recent years, from delivering a wider range of vaccines to the extended supply of oral contraceptives and pharmacist-initiated treatment for urinary tract infections. These initiatives are critical to ensure Australians can continue to access timely primary healthcare.


“Pharmacists across specialty areas continue to play a vital role in strengthening health systems, ensuring safe and effective use of medicines, promoting preventative care, and collaborating with the broader healthcare team to support true patient-centred care and patient-directed care.


“This World Pharmacists Day, we are acknowledging the vital role of pharmacists in improving patients’ access to care and as the custodians of medicine safety, and the significant impact we have on the broader health system.”


As part of the FIP World Congress, PSA will showcase Australian pharmacy, with a focus on pharmacists’ role in quality use of medicines including complex medication reviews, the impact of First Nations pharmacists, mental health services, and UTI prescribing trials and initiatives in the host state of Queensland, as well as New South Wales and Western Australia.


Pharmacists around Australia are invited to participate in World Pharmacists Day. A range of resources are available from www.psa.org.au/wpd23



Media contact:   Georgia Clarke   M: 0480 099 798  E: georgia.clarke@psa.org.au

PSA launches training for extended supply of oral contraceptive

7 September 2023


This Women’s Health Week the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) has launched the NSW – Contraception Essentials training as onboarding begins for the next stage of the New South Wales Pharmacy Trial.


The statewide trial, run by the University of Newcastle, authorises pharmacists participating in the trial to continue a prescription for the resupply of a certain oral contraceptives for eligible women aged from 18 to 35 years.


Pharmacists must meet specific requirements to be eligible for participation, and completing the appropriate training is mandatory.


PSA New South Wales President Luke Kelly FPS urged pharmacists to complete their training with PSA ahead of the trial’s start date.


“Improving safe access to contraception is essential to improving health care for all Australians,” Mr Kelly said.


“PSA is proud to be leading the way in pharmacist education and supporting the development of pharmacy scope of practice.


“PSA has developed a comprehensive training course tailored to the NSW oral contraceptive trial, arming pharmacists with the latest clinical information and giving them the skills and knowledge for the continuation of appropriate contraception.


“This is about making sure that Australians can access contraception when and where they need it,” Mr Kelly concluded.


NSW Pharmacists can enrol in the NSW – Contraception Essentials training program here.


For more information on the NSW Pharmacy Trial, visit NSW Health.



Media contact:   Georgia Clarke   M: 0480 099 798  E: georgia.clarke@psa.org.au

Updated treatment guidelines for salbutamol and terbutaline

7 September 2023


Marking National Asthma Awareness Week (1-7 September), the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) has launched updated treatment guidelines for pharmacists supplying salbutamol and terbutaline inhalers to patients suffering from asthma.


The updated treatment guidelines reflect the new Professional Practice Standards and include updated information about over reliance on short-acting beta2-agonists (SABA).


PSA National President Dr Fei Sim FPS says pharmacists have an increasingly important role to play in supporting patients to move away from relievers and toward preventers.


“Around 2.7 million or 11 per cent of Australians suffer from asthma, with PBS data indicating a growing reliance on relievers as treatment,” Dr Sim said.


“Over reliance on SABA relievers can increase the risk of severe asthma flare-ups and reduce the effectiveness of emergency treatments.


“The updated treatment guidelines support pharmacists to identify when it is appropriate to supply reliever inhalers to patients, and when their asthma may not be appropriately controlled.


“The guidelines also reinforce the importance of checking asthma symptom control, adherence, and inhaler technique at every opportunity.


“As the most accessible healthcare practitioners, community pharmacists are well placed to play a greater role in patient education and awareness of asthma-related harms, identify opportunity for clinical intervention and improve the safe and effective use of inhalers. When undertaking complex medication reviews, credentialled pharmacists are also best placed to make recommendations to optimise the use of treatments and management of asthma.


“We all have a role to play to encourage patients requesting SABA relievers to visit their medical practitioner to review their condition and make sure that they are receiving appropriate long-term care.”


PSA is urging all pharmacists to familiarise themselves with the updated guidelines, available at Australian Pharmaceutical Formulary and Handbook | Australian Pharmaceutical Formulary and Handbook (psa.org.au)


Media contact:   Georgia Clarke   M: 0480 099 798  E: georgia.clarke@psa.org.au

3,000 lives saved in first year of Take-Home Naloxone program

31 August 2023


This International Overdose Awareness Day, the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) recognises the important role pharmacists play in supporting patients taking prescription opioids, noting that in its first year alone, the Take Home Naloxone (THN) program has saved 3000 lives.


The national THN program provides naloxone to anyone who may experience, or witness, an opioid overdose or adverse reaction for free and without a prescription.


Since the THN program began on 1 July 2022, an estimated 3,000 doses have been used by Australians experiencing or witnessing an opioid overdose or adverse reaction equating to 8 uses per day.


PSA National President Dr Fei Sim FPS says that pharmacists have been key to the success of the program because of their accessibility and expertise.


“The Take Home Naloxone program has saved Australian lives,” Dr Sim said.


“Evidence from the first year of the THN program shows that pharmacists are well-placed to provide naloxone, whether alongside a prescribed opioid or as a stand-alone supply.


“As our most accessible healthcare professionals, pharmacists have distributed over 90% of naloxone for the THN Program. This is evidence that pharmacist-provided naloxone as one of the harm minimisation initiatives, alongside counselling, is feasible and acceptable by Australians.


“To ensure ongoing sustainability and impact, pharmacists must be empowered and supported to provide this life-saving service.


“We are urging anyone taking opioids for pain management, or caring for someone who does, to have a conversation with your local pharmacist about having naloxone on-hand. We can also provide advice about identifying an opioid overdose and how to respond during an emergency.


“Over recent years we have seen more cases of illicit party drugs being spiked with acetyl-fentanyl which can cause opioid overdoses even in small amounts.


“Your pharmacist is there to provide judgement-free, expert advice on when and how to use this life-saving drug.


“It could save your life, or the life of a friend.”


Take Home Naloxone is available to Australians through their local pharmacist. PSA recommends calling ahead to ensure your local pharmacy participates in the THN program and has available stock.


Key facts:

  • Up to 8 lives saved each day from use of Take-Home Naloxone
  • Over 110,000 Australians are currently struggling with opioid dependence
  • 7% of unintentional drug-induced deaths in 2021 involved opioids



Media contact:   Georgia Clarke   M: 0480 099 798  E: georgia.clarke@psa.org.au


Data from 1 July 2022 to 30 June 2023, provided by the Department of Health and Aged Care.

Penington Institute Australia Annual Overdose Report 2023

Overdose report shows more needs to be done

28 August 2023


The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) is calling for governments, health workers and support organisations to work together to do more to tackle the ongoing challenge of deaths caused by intentional and unintentional drug overdose. 


The Penington Institute’s Annual Overdose Report, released today, found there were 2,231 unintentional drug-induced deaths in Australia in 2021. Opioids and benzodiazepines were among the most common drugs involved in accidental overdose deaths.  


The report showed more than two-thirds of all unintentional drug-induced deaths involved two or more drug types (72.5%), with presence of benzodiazepines (such as diazepam, lorazepam and alprazolam) increasingly implicated in unintentional drug-induced deaths.  Anti-depressants (38%), stimulants (35%), and alcohol (25%) were also observed in unintentional deaths with two or more drug types.  


PSA National President Dr Fei Sim FPS said the report was a sobering reminder of the work still to be done to prevent avoidable harm from drug, including prescription medicines.  


“More Australians are using more medicines than ever before, and prescribing of multiple medicines to manage health conditions is increasingly common,” Dr Sim said. “However, some drug-drug combinations dramatically increase risk of unintentional drug-related death or hospitalisation, as this data tragically shows. 


“Real Time Prescription Monitoring is now available and must be used by health professionals to have non-judgemental conversations with people about the potential risks associated with medicines – and particularly when multiple medicines are being used at the same time. RTPM is making an impact but is not the whole answer. More solutions are needed. 


“As health professionals, we need to expand the way we assess risk. We need to recognise that medicine sharing happens and should form a routine part of all patient conversations about risk.  


“We need to offer Take Home Naloxone routinely and repeatedly to any person at-risk of experiencing or witnessing opioid overdose, and to people taking other medicines in combination with prescribed or illicit opioids.” 


Dr Sim called for more support for our health workforce to have conversations with potentially at-risk individuals in a meaningful, non-judgemental and supportive way, including by increasing access to training, guidelines, peer support and fostering collaboration of health teams. 


“Pharmacists work with at-risk individuals every day, but need better funding and support to be able to make a meaningful impact in reducing death and injury which drug overdose can cause. This includes building workforce capacity to be more active in deprescribing roles, particularly in primary care,” she said. 


“Pharmacists are the custodians of safe use of medicines, we are the key to reducing medicine-related harm. Pharmacists should be empowered and supported to do more to prevent medicine-related harm.   


“Every unintentional medicine-related harm is a failure of our health system. There is clearly more work to be done. I commend the Pennington Institute for producing this annual report, and for its impact over the previous eight years.” 


Media contact:   Georgia Clarke   M: 0480 099 798  E: georgia.clarke@psa.org.au

Pharmacists can deliver on current and future challenges

25 August 2023


Following the release of the Australian Government’s Intergenerational Report 2023, the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) has called for pharmacists to be able to do more to support the country’s increased healthcare needs as our population ages.


The report, released yesterday, highlights five major factors affecting public policy moving forward. In particular, the report acknowledges that Australia’s ageing population and rising demand for care and support services will add further pressure on our already strained health system, hospital emergency departments, and further exacerbate wait times in General Practice.


PSA National President Dr Fei Sim FPS said the report highlighted both the urgent and the long-term need for pharmacists in all practice areas to work to their top of scope.


“The Federal Government’s Intergenerational Report confirmed that our gaining population will continue to have a significant impact on the Australian economy,” she said.


“Combined with the rising demand for quality health care services, we must be able to ensure the long-term sustainability of our health system.


“Access to care is a growing issue in Australia, and the situation is exacerbated in rural and remote communities.


“Australians need all health professionals working to their top of scope – including pharmacists.”


The Federal Government also announced yesterday that ANU’s Professor Mark Cormack will lead the Unleashing the Potential of our Health Workforce Review, to be delivered in 2024.


“The government’s scope of practice review needs to heed the warnings of the Intergenerational report and unlock the potential of our health workforce using pharmacists,” Dr Sim said.


“Pharmacists are highly trained health professionals and should be supported to practise to full scope, contributing to sustainability of our health system to enable equitable access to healthcare by all Australians.


“There are a range of common ailments which can be safely and effectively managed by pharmacists, supported by international evidence, facilitating safe and timely care.


“This can only be achieved with meaningful investment and funding to empower pharmacists to deliver important health care to Australians.


“Pharmacists can, and should, play a significant role to improve Australian’s access to care, and contribute towards quality, safe and effective use of medicines in all parts of the healthcare system.


“On behalf of Australian pharmacists, I look forward to working with Professor Cormack and his team on the Unleashing the Potential of our Health Workforce Review,” Dr Sim concluded.


The Federal Government’s Intergenerational Report is available here.



Media contact:   Georgia Clarke   M: 0480 099 798  E: georgia.clarke@psa.org.au

Renewed partnership to enhance support for pharmacy students

24 August 2023



The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) and the National Australian Pharmacy Students’ Association (NAPSA) have reaffirmed their longstanding partnership to enhance support for pharmacy students at 18 universities across Australia.


The renewed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) ensures that students are supported throughout their studies and professional development.


PSA National President Dr Fei Sim FPS recognises the importance of supporting pharmacy students as the future of the profession.


“PSA has a long and proud history of supporting pharmacy students, who make up a vital part of our profession and PSA’s membership,” Dr Sim said.


“Our role is to ensure that our profession has a vibrant and strong future, and that our members have rewarding and exciting career pathways.


“Through our partnership with NAPSA, we are giving pharmacy students around Australia the opportunity to engage with the broader profession, having their voices heard on the issues that affect them and their futures.


“As the peak body representing pharmacists in all practice settings, we are supporting future pharmacists to help shape their profession.


“We are proud to continue to support the vital role of NAPSA and pharmacy students,” Dr Sim concluded.


NAPSA President Bano Serhan said the renewed agreement “will continue to provide students with the best opportunities to engage in a professional environment alongside their education.


“NAPSA’s members are best served by our close relationships with industry organisations, and with the keen interest of the new Board in policy and advocacy, I am looking forward to the year ahead working closely with the PSA.


“Pharmacy students know they have NAPSA and PSA in their corner, and this renewed agreement will continue that tradition.


“Supporting future pharmacists will cement our industry as the leading primary healthcare service in Australia.”



Media contact:   Georgia Clarke   M: 0480 099 798      E: georgia.clarke@psa.org.au

Tribute to FIP President, the late Dominique Jordan

20 August 2023


The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) is today paying tribute to International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) President Mr Dominique Jordan, who sadly passed away overnight.


Dominique shared news of his cancer diagnosis in July 2022 and had been undergoing treatment since.


A Swiss community pharmacist, Dominique became a member of FIP 20 years ago. In his home country, his actions to advance pharmacy included roles as president and CEO, concurrently, of pharmaSuisse, the Swiss association of pharmacists.


Dominique was elected president of FIP in 2018. Before that, he served FIP and global pharmacy as chair of the Board of Pharmaceutical Practice (2014-2018).


PSA National President Dr Fei Sim FPS paid tribute to Mr Jordan.


“Despite his ongoing battle with cancer, Dominique always captured the tenacity and positivity in life,” Dr Sim said.


“Dominique has worked tirelessly and given much of his life to professional pharmacy both in Australia and internationally and leaves a huge legacy to the profession. He will be greatly missed.


“On behalf of Australian pharmacists, PSA offers our deepest condolences to Mr Jordan’s friends, family, and colleagues.”


As per FIP Statutes (article 16.13), president-elect Paul Sinclair AM MPS will begin his term effective immediately.





Media contact:   Georgia Clarke   M: 0480 099 798  E: georgia.clarke@psa.org.au