MRNs extended for credentialing transition

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) welcomes the extension of Medication Review Numbers (MRNs) to support credentialed pharmacists to continue providing MMR services during the transition to a new credentialing system.

The extension was announced today by the Department of Health and Aged Care Assistant Secretary – Pharmacy Branch, David Laffan, in an email to credentialed pharmacists. The move gives pharmacists 12 months to transition to a new credential, including a Medication Management Review (MMR) credential, and an Aged Care credential.

PSA is set to offer both MMR and Aged Care credentials, as well as offer a pathway for recognition of prior learning to recognise the experience of practising credentialed pharmacists in line with the Accreditation Standards for MMR and Aged Care On-site Pharmacist education programs | Australian Pharmacy Council.

PSA National President Associate Professor Fei Sim FPS said that PSA’s priority and commitment to workforce development have not changed.

“We have been in discussions with the Department for some time to ensure that transition arrangements are in place to minimise disruption to patient services and allow the existing workforce to continue providing MMR services in the immediate term.

“I’m pleased to see action from the Department to allow these services to continue.

A/Prof Sim said that PSA’s credentialing program, which is pending accreditation with the Australian Pharmacy Council, is set to feature ongoing support for credentialed pharmacists and those seeking credentials.

“PSA continues to approach this fast-moving practice area with the intent to support our workforce, and to ensure that the credentialing and recredentialing process is achievable and affordable.

“All pharmacists who have already undergone credentialing will be able to apply for PSA’s recognition of prior learning as part of the new credentialing process.

“PSA is proud to offer further support to members, including offering the new MMR credential to currently credentialed pharmacists with recognition of prior learning at no cost for Professional Plus members.

“This is part of our ongoing support for this workforce, solidifying our place as the home for credentialed pharmacists.”

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

National access to vaccines must be a priority

30 November 2023


The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) is again calling for vaccines to be made accessible to more Australians by fully utilising pharmacists as part of the immunisation workforce, following a new report from Australian think tank Grattan Institute.

The Grattan Institute report A fair shot: How to close the vaccination gap specifically recommends action on a National Vaccines Partnership Agreement and harmonisation of the state-based regulations that determine pharmacists’ authority to deliver certain vaccines.

The report also calls for new funding for Primary Health Networks (PHNs) to support general practice, pharmacists, and aged care providers to promote vaccination in mainstream primary care.

PSA National President Dr Fei Sim FPS welcomes the Grattan Institute’s recommendations, which echo PSA’s calls for nationally consistent vaccination authorities.

“The Grattan Institute’s report is a stark look at how far we still have to go to make vaccination equitable for all Australians,” Dr Sim says.

“We know that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to improving vaccine uptake, with the report rightly highlighting the need for a tailored approach to ensuring vulnerable cohorts don’t fall through the cracks.

“The Federal Government’s move to open up National Immunisation Program funding for pharmacist-administered vaccines is a welcome first step, but there is more work to be done to allow pharmacists to deliver all vaccines to patients of all ages.

“At the moment, every jurisdiction in Australia has different regulations around which vaccinations can be administered by pharmacists.

“A nationally consistent schedule of pharmacist-administered vaccines is key to achieve equitable access to government-funded vaccines by all Australians.

“Pharmacists can and should be utilised as trusted health care professionals, working hand in glove with the rest of the primary care team to break down the barriers to vaccination, from improving equity and access, to amplifying public health messages.

“Our health system needs all immunisers to play a role in delivering vaccines wherever there is a patient need, whether a GP, nurse practitioner or pharmacist,” Dr Sim concluded.

The Grattan Institute’s A fair shot: How to close the vaccination gap report is available here.

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

Improve Quality Use of Medicines to improve mental health care: report

22 November 2023


Pharmacists can play a greater role in helping patients manage their mental health through the quality use of medicines, a new report from the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) has found.  


The sixth edition of PSA’s flagship Medicine Safety series, Medicine Safety: Mental Health Care report highlights opportunities for pharmacists to better support Australians using medicines to treat mental health conditions, including improving access to care and investing in quality use of medicines services at critical points of care.  


Key report stats: 


  • People with severe mental health conditions have poorer physical health than the general community and have a 12–16 year shorter life expectancy. 
  • 18% of Australians use medicines to treat a mental health condition. 
  • Antidepressants were involved in 31% of medicine-related deaths due to overdose, and antipsychotics in 17% of medicine-related deaths due to overdose.
  • 1 in 4 Australians are taking a medicine that would not be recommended for them based on the individual genetic variation of their drug metabolising enzymes.
  • Medicine changes are frequent in mental health facilities, with an average of 10 changes per admission. 
  • Over 40% of mental health facilities do not have any pharmaceutical handover at discharge.


PSA’s recommendations from the Medicine Safety: Mental Health Care report support better medicine management and wrap-around mental health care to improve quality of life for Australians living with a mental health condition. 


Quotes attributable to PSA National President Dr Fei Sim FPS:


“The evidence presented in this report shows that, as a nation, we need to do better.


“Wherever medicines are used there is a risk of medicine misadventure, which is exactly what this report has found.   


“We know that the prevalence of mental ill health is on the rise, and more people are using medicines to manage a mental health condition.  


“Too often we hear of people stopping treatment altogether because of the effects of these medicines, because they make them unwell. This is where we believe there is significant opportunity for investment in pharmacist services to help support the safe and effective use of medicines.


“People using medicines in their mental health care need better access to the expertise of pharmacists at all stages of management – in hospitals, in community pharmacies, in private clinics and across the whole spectrum of care.  


“Our recommendations focus on addressing specific gaps in the provision of comprehensive health care and challenge the ‘set-and-forget’ paradigm that people using mental health medicines too often experience.  


“From implementing a mental health screening program in community pharmacies, to formalising transition of care pharmacist services to reduce the risk of medicine-related harm when transferring from hospital to home, pharmacists can and should be part of a collaborative, multidisciplinary and person-centred approach to mental health care. 


“This is about ensuring patients have the support they need to get the most out of their medicines safely and effectively.


Quotes attributable to Assistant Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention and Assistant Minister for Rural and Regional Health, Emma McBride MP:


“The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) should be commended on the launch of their most recent medicine safety report, Medicine Safety: Mental Health Care.


“This is a timely report on the importance of medication safety in mental health given the prevalence of common mental health disorders and the medications often prescribed as part of treatment and care.


“The report also highlights the vital role pharmacists play – across settings – to improve safety and importantly reduce harm.


“As a pharmacist who worked in acute adult inpatient services I know this report will be influential as we work together to improve patient care.”


The Medicine Safety: Mental Health Care report and PSA’s recommendations are available at https://www.psa.org.au/advocacy/working-for-our-profession/medicine-safety/mental_health/  



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

Quality Use of Medicines Alliance funded to promote health literacy

9 October 2023


Two new grants to support consumer health literacy and improve the use of medicines will see peak health and consumer organisations working side-by-side.


The Quality Use of Medicines Alliance represents a group of eight health and consumer organisations, bringing together unique expertise from education providers, consumer groups, researchers, health professionals, peak bodies and member organisations to develop free health education products for a national audience of health professionals and consumers.


The grants will run over a 2-year period and address priority quality use of medicines issues for atopic dermatitis, gout, antidepressants in older people and oral anticoagulants, awarded under the Australian Government’s Quality Use of Diagnostics, Therapeutics and Pathology (QUDTP) Program.


Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) National President Dr Fei Sim FPS said that improving the Quality Use of Medicines requires all health professionals working together.


“PSA is proud to be part of the Quality Use of Medicines Alliance, awarded health professional education and consumer health literacy grants by the Department of Health and Aged Care to improve health literacy and education,” Dr Sim said.


“Evidence shows that when health professionals and consumers work together, we can support more effective healthcare, better medicine safety and improved health outcomes.


“We are working with the Quality Use of Medicines Alliance to close knowledge gaps in atopic dermatitis, gout, oral anticoagulants, and antidepressants in older people.


“Through this work, PSA is proudly supporting pharmacists to not only champion safe and effective medicine use, but also to support health literacy and information for our patients.”


The Quality Use of Medicines Alliance consists of:


  • Medcast: a nationwide provider of independent education for a range of health professions
  • Health Care Consumers’ Association: a peak health consumer organisation working to improve the quality and safety of health care
  • Arthritis Australia: the leading national arthritis charity supporting people living with all types of arthritis
  • Eczema Support Australia: a national support network advocating for people living with eczema
  • Pharmaceutical Society of Australia: the national peak professional pharmacy body representing Australia’s 36,000 pharmacists across all sectors and specialisations
  • QUM Connect: a specialist consultancy with experience and expertise in creating and implementing quality use of medicines initiatives to improve health outcomes
  • Royal Australian College of General Practitioners: Australia’s largest professional general practice organisation responsible for maintaining standards for quality clinical practice, education and training, and research in Australian general practice
  • Wiser Healthcare: a research collaboration involving the University of Sydney, Bond University, Monash University and the University of Wollongong, with a special interest in research in the areas of rational test ordering and quality use of medicines.



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

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