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TGA to brief pharmacists on vaping reform

16 February 2024

 

Chief Medical Adviser of the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) Professor Robyn Langham joins Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) National President Associate Professor Fei Sim FPS this month for a national webinar on recent and planned changes affecting the supply and regulation of vaping products.

Clearing the Air – Navigating the Vaping Reforms with Confidence explores recent regulatory changes (and those in the pipeline) and what they mean for pharmacists. It will also introduce the TGA’s new validation tool providing real-time monitoring of Special Access Scheme and Authorised Prescriber scheme notifications to support safe dispensing of unapproved therapeutic goods.

An update on evidence-based approaches for smoking and vaping cessation and nicotine dependence management will also be covered by guest speakers from the ‘National Quit Training and Resource Centre for Nicotine Cessation’ (Quit Centre) which provides a national best practice support service for health professionals.

A/Prof Fei Sim FPS urged pharmacists to attend the webinar and hear directly from the TGA.

“This webinar is a chance for pharmacists to hear directly from the TGA and experts in the field, to gain in-depth understanding of the new regulatory environment, especially as it relates to dispensing unapproved vaping products.

“I strongly encourage all pharmacists to attend, especially pharmacists who supply or are looking to supply vaping products, to ensure as pharmacists we are meeting our professional obligations in our practice and providing best-practice smoking cessation support to patients.”

Pharmacists can visit Clearing the Air – Navigating the Vaping Reforms with Confidence to register.

Pharmacists can also visit the TGA’s Vaping Hub to find more information on the regulatory changes to vapes, including sourcing and dispensing within the new regulatory settings.

 

Clearing the Air – Navigating the Vaping Reforms with Confidence

Tuesday 27 February 2024, from 7.30pm AEDT

Presented in collaboration with the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care

 

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

APF26 supporting developing practice

6 February 2024

 

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) is set to release the 26th print edition of the Australian Pharmaceutical Formulary (APF) later this month, featuring updated guidance and information on a range of clinical topics.

With the publishing of APF26, pharmacists have access to a fully revised section on Compounding, an updated Treatment Guidelines for Pharmacists section, and updated Cautionary Advisory Label (CAL) recommendations.

PSA National President Associate Professor Fei Sim FPS said each edition of the APF reflects updated expected practices, supporting quality pharmacy practice across roles and settings.

“As our practice evolves to meet the future health needs of Australians, so does the APF,” A/Prof Sim said.

“APF supports the role of pharmacists in achieving medicine safety backed by evidence-based information at all stages of the medication management cycle, including dispensing, compounding, therapeutic management, and providing health information.

“Whether practicing in community, hospital, embedded and consultant pharmacy roles, using the APF as clinical decision support at the point of care continues to promote the safe and effective use of medicines,” A/Prof Sim concluded.

APF26 contains the most important update to the Compounding section seen for many editions. Key changes in the section include:

  • detailed guidance on assigning expiry dates to compounded medicines (including sterile medicines)
  • clear explanation of the legislative and regulatory framework that applies to compounding
  • expanded guidance on compounding sterile medicines and handling or compounding hazardous medicines
  • new guidance about manipulating and repackaging commercial products
  • new guidance about water used for compounding medicines or for manipulating commercial products into a ready-to-administer form.

Pharmacists who are involved with the following clinical activities will find guidance in APF that is relevant to their practice:

  • simple or complex compounding
  • handling or compounding hazardous medicines
  • repackaging medicines (e.g. into a dose administration aid)
  • manipulating commercial products into a ready-to-administer form (e.g. reconstituting antibiotics)

The Treatment Guidelines for Pharmacists section has been expanded and includes 30 health conditions. The new Treatment Guidelines include:

  • anorectal disorders
  • cold sores
  • conjunctivitis
  • weight management.

Each Treatment Guideline has been written to help pharmacists easily find the key information they need at the point of care.

The Pharmacy Board of Australia requires all pharmacists to have ready access to APF during clinical assessment and reviewing, dispensing, and counselling processes. APF digital subscribers will automatically have access to all new and updated APF26 content.

Pre-orders for the print edition of APF26 are open now. Visit https://www.psa.org.au/media-publications/australian-pharmaceutical-formulary/

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

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia is the only national peak body that represents all of Australia’s pharmacists across all practice settings. We want every Australian to have access to the best healthcare, and this must include optimising access to pharmacists’ knowledge and medicines expertise at the forefront of our healthcare system.

2024-25 Federal Budget submission: Building a healthcare system for the future

5 February 2024

 

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) is calling for investment into pharmacy and pharmacist services to improve access and equity of care as part of its 2024-25 Federal Budget Submission.

As the peak professional body for pharmacists in all areas of practice, PSA calls for the upcoming Federal Budget to support patients’ access to care and medicines through funded community pharmacist-led consultation services, an expanded National Immunisation Program Vaccinations in Pharmacy program, support for participation in multidisciplinary case conferencing, and nation-wide mental health first aid training.

Importantly, PSA also calls for the permanent introduction and funding of the Integrating Pharmacists within Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services to Improve Chronic Disease Management, or IPAC Project, embedding vital medicines safety advocacy into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander primary health services. The IPAC Project is critically supported by the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) and the Medical Services Advisory Committee (MSAC).

PSA’s recommendations signal the impact that increased scope for pharmacist services can have on the broader health system.

PSA National President Associate Professor Fei Sim FPS says that funding for pharmacist services is key to equitable and accessible care now and into the future.

“This year’s Budget is an opportunity to strengthen our healthcare system, ensuring that its fit for purpose and able to meet the current and future health needs of our population,” A/Prof Sim said.

“Pharmacists should be supported to deliver more vaccinations, to act as a key consultation and triage point, and to offer crisis support to people experiencing mental ill health.

“Pharmacists should be funded to continue our vital role in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander primary health services as part of the IPAC program supported by the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation and the Medical Services Advisory Committee.

“These recommendations bolster medicine safety, and recognise pharmacists’ roles in disease management, and support access to care for all Australians.

“We can make a real difference to the patients we serve, and the health system more broadly, but our pharmacy workforce should be supported to be in these roles.

“PSA is calling for investment across five key areas that support patient access to care, bolster the quality use of medicines and medicines safety, and recognise our roles as critical to improving the disease management.

“Investing in community-based care and quality use of medicines is investing in accessible and equitable care for Australians when and where they need it,” A/Prof Sim concluded.

PSA’s full Budget Submission is available at https://www.psa.org.au/advocacy/budget-submissions/

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

Vaccination funding should be consistent: Sim

31 January 2024

 

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) welcomes news that payments for pharmacist administration of COVID-19 vaccinations will be increased from tomorrow (1 February 2024) but urges similar increases across the National Immunisation Program Vaccinations in Pharmacy program.

 

The Pharmacy Programs Administrator (PPA) has confirmed that the new fee for COVID-19 Vaccine Administration Payments for all doses will be raised to $30.65. The Vaccination Incentive – Site Visit fee will not increase.

PSA National President A/Prof Fei Sim FPS said that increases should also apply to payments for NIPVIP vaccines.

“While I welcome increases in pharmacist remuneration for administering vital COVID-19 vaccines, it further highlights the growing inequality in funding for other vaccines delivered by pharmacists,” A/Prof Sim said.

“This change recognises the costs involved in delivering vaccination services, and it should be applied to all vaccines expected to be delivered by pharmacists. All vaccination services, regardless of whether under the COVID-19 Vaccination in Community Pharmacy Program or the National Immunisation Program Vaccinations in Pharmacy program, should be remunerated at the same rate.

This should include commitment to indexing of fees to keep pace with CPI, inclusion of rural loading, after hours incentives and incentives for reaching at risk and priority populations. The NIPVIP program should also support outreach services so pharmacists can support people wherever they live, including in aged care and disability facilities

“Adequate pharmacist remuneration is critical to ensuring that these essential services delivered by pharmacists can be delivered sustainably, which ultimately protects and maintains equitable access to vaccination services for all Australians.”

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

Unleashing the potential of pharmacists: Scope of practice review

31 January 2024

 

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) welcomes the release of the first issue paper from the Unleashing the Potential of our Health Workforce Scope of Practice Review (the Cormack Review) last week.

The issues paper recognises the existing barriers that are preventing Australia’s healthcare professionals, including pharmacists, from practising to their full and top of scope.

PSA National President A/Prof Fei Sim FPS said that the paper highlights both the urgent and the long-term need for pharmacists to contribute to improving access to care and medicine safety through working to their full and top of scope.

“The Cormack Review’s first issues paper confirms that inconsistent regulations, unnecessary restrictions on practice, and siloed workforces are having a detrimental impact on patients,” A/Prof Sim said.

“As pharmacists, we welcome the paper as the first step in the review process, however we need to now look towards solutions.

“PSA is making the case for solutions that recognise the potential of pharmacists as vital members of the healthcare team.

“PSA sees a future where community pharmacies are supported and funded to fulfill their primary care role as urgent care clinics where pharmacists can triage, manage and consult on a range of acute common ailments.

“This includes the ability to prescribe PBS medicines, harnessing the accessibility of pharmacists to deliver timely, cost-effective care – dramatically reducing patients’ out-of-pocket costs.

“We see a future where pharmacists are embedded in multidisciplinary health care teams wherever medicines are prescribed, supplied, administered, or reviewed, and where pharmacists are utilised to support patients in managing chronic health conditions – whether that is a medicine or a referral to another healthcare provider.

“To achieve these aims, regulatory, financial and systems barriers must be recognised and removed, and only until then, we can see the full potential of pharmacists unleashed.

“As the next phase of consultation begins, we are continuing to advocate directly to government for the future of our profession and importantly, the future of our patients.”

A/Prof Fei Sim currently sits on the Cormack Review’s Expert Advisory Committee, representing the pharmacy profession.

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

Access to RSV vaccine critical to its efficacy

19 January 2024

 

Following the welcome approval of a new vaccine to protect older Australians against the highly infectious respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) is urging governments to ensure its accessibility for those most at risk.

This week the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) approved AREXVY for Australians aged 60 and over, the first RSV vaccine approved in Australia.

PSA National President A/Prof Fei Sim FPS said that allowing pharmacists to administer the vaccine would significantly improve its uptake and in turn, reduce hospitalisations from severe infections.

“Having a vaccine on the market is not enough, we need to ensure that it’s as accessible as possible to those who need it most,” A/Prof Sim said.

“Pharmacist immunisers are limited by red-tape and regulation imposed by states and territories, preventing them from fulfilling their potential to administer all vaccines to all at-risk Australians.

“Millions of Australians attend pharmacies for their vaccinations, with more than 15 million COVID-19 and influenza vaccines administered by pharmacists over the last few years.

“By making vaccinations more accessible to vulnerable groups, we can limit the serious health complications RSV can cause and in turn reduce hospitalisations.

“Allowing pharmacists to practise to the top of their scope makes efficient use of health resources, benefitting the broader health system.

“I urge all state and territory governments to authorise pharmacists to provide the RSV vaccine, supporting access to preventive care and keeping older Australians healthy and well.

“This access should extend to all vaccines, for all eligible people, in all locations where pharmacists work.

“Reducing barriers to vaccination, reducing barriers to care, should always be our priority,” A/Prof Sim concluded.

AREXVY will soon be made available nationally, on private prescription.

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

Victorian floods highlight urgent need for permanent continued dispensing

10 January 2024

 

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) welcomes the Victorian Government’s move to expand continued dispensing measures in response to widespread flooding in Central Victoria.

The introduction of Public Health Emergency Order 25 today aligns with the Commonwealth Government’s National Health (Continued Dispensing) Determination made in December 2023, and expands access to more than 750 PBS-listed molecules for people in emergencies who cannot access their prescription or get in touch with their regular prescriber. The Order is set to expire in February.

PSA Victoria President Dr Amy Page FPS welcomed the Emergency Order, saying that it allowed pharmacists to continue supporting patients with their health.

“Continued dispensing plays a crucial role in maintaining the continuity of care for patients, particularly in natural disasters where people can be separated from their medicines. We know that this only becoming more common with the effects of climate change.

“The temporary expansion of continued dispensing is vital in ensuring that Victorians can access their essential medications without unnecessary delays or interruptions during the current floods.

“We cannot wait for natural disasters to happen before we put measures in place to protect the health and wellbeing of our communities. Making continued dispensing arrangements permanent for all medicines, for example, would allow pharmacists to take a proactive role in the post-disaster health of their communities.

“I urge anyone who cannot access their medication for whatever reason to speak to their local pharmacist. We are here to help,” Dr Page concluded.

PSA National President Dr Fei Sim FPS again urged the Federal Government to work with state and territory governments to permanently protect emergency access to medicines.

“Regulations should be in place to support the safe and effective use of medicines, not hinder access to them,” Dr Sim said.

 

“Our nation’s fragmented approach is affecting the care we can provide patients, preventing continued access to essential medicines and disrupting care when people are already vulnerable to further illness.

 

“PSA firmly believes that all PBS General Schedule medicines should be permanently included in continued dispensing arrangements to avoid delays in emergency situations.

 

“I urge all state and territory leaders to implement permanent continued dispensing measures, giving all Australians equal access to the medicines they need in an emergency,” Dr Sim concluded.

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

Pharmacists relieved at reinstatement of expanded continued dispensing, but again call for it to be permanent

22 December 2023

 

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) welcomes the new Continued Dispensing Emergency Measure Determination issued by the Federal Government yesterday, supporting Australians affected by natural disasters and other emergencies.

The new determination allows pharmacists to provide patients with up to one month’s supply of 755 different Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) medicines (up from 150 medicines) if they are unable to access their prescription or prescriber in an emergency situation. The determination takes immediate effect.

PSA National President Dr Fei Sim FPS welcomed the move but again urged the Federal Government to make it a permanent.

“While this decision is welcome relief for patients and pharmacists in disaster affected areas, PSA has long advocated for the permanent expansion of continued dispensing nation-wide,” Dr Sim said.

“Every time there is a disaster, the government extends or reinstates this measure. However, this always takes a few days, and leaves patients without access to their medicines when they need them most. It is time to make it permanent.

“Regulations should be in place to support the safe and effective use of medicines, not hinder it. It makes no sense these measures expire after each natural disaster passes.

“With the effects of climate change making natural disasters harsher and more frequent, we know that these threats will continue.

“Not all emergences are natural disasters. Whether it be bereavement, domestic violence, house fire or car crash, the sad reality is that people are suddenly separated from their medicine in other emergencies.

“Permanently expanding the medicines covered by continued dispensing arrangements is necessary to give Australians peace-of-mind that no matter what, they will always be able to access to the medicines they need,” Dr Sim concluded.

 

This measure was also recommended as part of PSA’s 2023-24 Federal Budget Submission. Find the full submission here.

Help shape the pharmacy workforce of the future – PAMELA Workforce survey open now

18 December 2023

 

The Pharmacy in Australia: Measuring Employment, Labour decisions and Activity (PAMELA) pharmacist workforce survey has been launched this week by the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA), with support from The University of Queensland.

The survey captures current and future dynamics of the Australian Pharmacy Workforce, including trends in job history, income, career plan, professional commitment, and job satisfaction to help foster a better understanding of workforce decisions.

In launching the survey, PSA National President Dr Fei Sim FPS encourages all pharmacists, at all career stages and across practice areas, to complete the PAMELA survey.

“Decisions around work patterns are complex, and take into account pay and conditions, but also family and personal circumstances, location and professional roles,” Dr Sim said.

“The results of the PAMELA project will help the sector better understand what is motivating pharmacists to make their work decisions, and how policy change can enhance job satisfaction and promote work-life balance across the profession.

“PSA consistently advocates for a national approach to health workforce planning, including measuring trends and the impact of the pharmacist workforce on health outcomes, to support workforce capacity into the future.

“Ensuring that we can continue to meet the future healthcare needs of our ageing population requires understanding our workforce now, so that we appropriately plan for the future.

Professor Lisa Nissen FPS, part of the University of Queensland’s research team supporting the PAMELA project, said that pharmacy schools are also supporting the survey by alerting alumni to the survey.

“Anyone with a pharmacy degree, even if they are not registered or practising, is invited to participate so that we can better understand why some people choose to leave the profession,” Prof. Nissen said.

“It is just as essential to know why people leave the profession for other opportunities or careers, as why they stay.

“Pharmacy schools are training the pharmacists of the future – we need to better understand workforce trends in order to adapt our curriculum to be relevant to the changing practice of pharmacy.”

The PAMELA survey can be accessed here.

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

Pharmacists welcome Climate and Health strategy

7 December 2023

 

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) lauds the Federal Government’s first National Health and Climate Strategy released this week, recognising the urgent need to build climate-resilient health systems and limit the emissions created by the health care network.

In welcoming the Strategy, PSA National President Dr Fei Sim FPS thanked Federal Health Minister Mark Butler MP and Assistant Minister for Health Ged Kearney MP for their leadership in recognising the impact of climate change on health.

“The leadership of the Federal Government in acknowledging and assessing the impacts of climate change on the health of our population and the provision of care is crucial, because our health system, and our country need to do better,” Dr Sim said.

 

“Climate change is already having a significant and direct impact not only on the health of our every person in Australia, but also on the way we deliver quality health care.

“The rapidly changing climate adversely affects the health of the nation. It disproportionately harms vulnerable individuals. And we all need to work together to be part of the solution.

Dr Sim also reiterated the urgent need for environmentally sustainable practices across the pharmacy and broader health network.

“As a health issue, pharmacists and all health professionals have a professional obligation to work towards limiting the negative health impacts caused by climate change through direct action, leadership and patient support.

“Proactively responding and preparing for a changing climate will continue to alter many aspects of professional practice.

“In 2022 we released the first PSA Environmental Sustainability position statement, reaffirming our commitment to guiding pharmacists in improving our sector’s environmental footprint.

“PSA has led the way, having implemented measures across our organisation that contribute to a more sustainable future.

“We all have a responsibility to move toward sustainable practices, whether in the pharmacy or as an organisation – a responsibility that we take seriously and continue to develop and improve on,” Dr Sim concluded.

PSA’s 2022 Environmental Sustainability Statement is available here.

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