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Federal Budget makes medicines more accessible

15 May 2024

 

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) welcomes the Albanese Government’s 2024-25 federal budget, making healthcare more accessible to Australians through cost-of-living relief and expanded pharmacy programs.

 

Australians will have access to cheaper medicines under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, with a freeze on indexation for at least one year ensuring that the cost of medicines does not rise with the cost of living. On top of this, all PBS medicines dispensed by a community pharmacy, hospital, or approved prescriber will now be covered by the Closing the Gap PBS co-payment, making essential medicines free or cheaper for First Nations people.

 

The government are also set to invest $151.1 million to improve access to dose administration aids (DAAs), lifting the service cap from 60 to 90 services per pharmacy per week.

 

The Budget has also reaffirmed Commonwealth support for the Aged Care On-site Pharmacists (ACOP) program, investing $333.7 million to embed credentialed pharmacists in aged care facilities from 1 July 2024. Critically, the Budget also confirmed funding for pharmacists to deliver vaccination services in aged care and disability homes, actioning one of PSA’s key recommendations in its 2024-25 Federal Budget Submission.

 

PSA National President Associate Professor Fei Sim welcomed the Budget, saying that measures to tackle the cost of healthcare are critical to improving accessibility of care.

 

“Slowing down the rising cost of medicines is essential to ensuring that basic healthcare remains accessible despite the rising cost of living,” Associate Professor Sim said.

 

“Measures like lifting the cap on dose administration aids and investing in PBS medicines access for First Nations people are a step in the right direction, ensuring that support is rightly focused on priority populations.

 

“Closing the Gap must continue to be a priority for the entire health sector. PSA continues to promote measures that support greater health outcomes for First Nations people, including improving access to essential medicines.

 

“As negotiations on the 8th Community Pharmacy Agreement and other agreements continue, PSA is highlighting the importance of funding for the delivery and quality improvement of pharmacist programs to further support patient safety.

 

“We continue to highlight that pharmacists are key to improving Australians ’access to care and quality use of medicines and medicine safety.”

 

Associate Professor Sim also acknowledged the $160 million investment in women’s health initiatives included in this year’s budget.
 

“I sincerely thank Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care Ged Kearney MP for her continued advocacy for women’s health. It is positive to see investment into women’s health in this year’s budget.

 

 

“This is only the start of the journey, and I look forward to working collaboratively with the government, the Department and other stakeholders on this important work. ’

 

“On behalf of PSA and Australia’s 37,000 pharmacists, I commend Minister for Health and Aged Care Mark Butler, Treasurer Jim Chalmers MP on delivering today’s Budget.”

 

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

Vaping reforms to protect a new generation from nicotine dependence

8 May 2024

 

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) joins leading health bodies and the Federal Government in calling for reforms to the sale, supply, manufacture and commercial possession of vapes to pass Parliament.

 

PSA National President Associate Professor Fei Sim said Australians do not want to see a new generation of Australians taking up smoking or vaping.

 

“PSA unreservedly supports any measure that reduces the chance of children and young people accessing vapes and support Australia’s world leading approach to tobacco control,” A/Prof Sim said.

 

“Our priority focus in public health messaging and in policy should continue to be on the harms of cigarette smoking and vaping, particularly to young people and children.

 

“Ensuring convenience stores do not sell vapes and removing the colours and flavourings that appeal to young people are the first steps to reducing the harm of nicotine vapes.

 

“There are no nicotine vaping products on the market that have been tested and approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration as safe therapeutic goods, but there are pathways for vaping products to be used as a genuine smoking cessation tool with the support of healthcare professionals.

 

“We need to be clear that vaping is not a ‘safe’ alternative to smoking – we’re already seeing scary short-term effects, not to mention the long-term effects that may emerge in the coming years.

 

“Accessing vaping products through a health professional gives pharmacists the opportunity to provide broader health and smoking cessation support.”

 

PSA is already assisting government with minimising the impacts of vaping in the community.

 

A/Prof Sim said: “PSA is supporting pharmacists across Australia with education and training about our role in vaping and smoking cessation.

 

“There is more work to be done to limit the harm caused by vaping and inhaled nicotine use in general. PSA continues to work with the Federal Government, the Department of Health, the Pharmacy Guild of Australia and other stakeholders to ensure that pharmacists have all necessary resources and education to support vaping reform,” A/Prof Sim concluded.

 

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

Thanking your pharmacist is more important than ever

13 March 2024

 

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) is proud to announce the 2024 theme for Thank Your Pharmacist Day – More than ever.

More than ever highlights pharmacists’ growing role in Australia’s health care system, and the enduring commitment of pharmacists in all practice areas and specialisations to quality, accessible care.

Thank Your Pharmacist Day is celebrated annually in March, bringing together patients, community leaders and stakeholders from across the health sector to acknowledge the vital work of Australia’s pharmacists.

PSA National President Associate Professor Fei Sim FPS said that support for pharmacists, across all practice areas and specialisations, was more important than ever.

“Our profession is doing more to support the health and wellbeing of Australia than ever before,” A/Prof Sim said.

“We are accessible in communities, offering more services, delivering more vaccinations, and making critical medicines more accessible to all Australians regardless of where they live. In many states and territories, we are strengthening access to oral contraceptives and treatments for uncomplicated UTIs, and in some parts of the country, providing more care for minor skin conditions.

“We are providing more medication management reviews, and supporting multidisciplinary care in general practice, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations, and aged care facilities. We are supporting the quality use of medicines in hospitals, working with doctors, nurses, and allied health professionals in a range of settings—from inpatient bedsides to emergency departments and outpatient clinics.

“Each of these roles and the countless other specialist areas of practice are critical to the future of our health care systems.

“Thank Your Pharmacist Day is an opportunity for all Australians to consider all the ways in which pharmacists support our health. I strongly encourage all Australians to thank their pharmacist every time you visit a pharmacy, but especially on the 21st of March – national Thank Your Pharmacist Day.”

 

Thank Your Pharmacist Day is celebrated on 21 March 2024.

For more information visit www.psa.org.au/thankyourpharmacist

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

More Victorians to access travel health and skin services from community pharmacists

28 February 2024

 

More Victorian pharmacists will soon be delivering expanded vaccination, travel health services and treatment for two common skin conditions as the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) launches a series of brand-new training programs.

PSA’s Travel Health training program provides pharmacists with an understanding of the key health risks associated with international travel, and outlines preventative strategies including travel vaccinations.

PSA’s Herpes Zoster (Shingles) and Mild plaque psoriasis training programs provide pharmacists with a comprehensive clinical understanding the conditions, covering clinical features, treatment approach, management goals, and practical applications for pharmacists participating in prescribing pilots.

The successful completion of these programs enable Victorian pharmacists to offer new services under the Victorian Community Pharmacist Statewide Pilot.

PSA Victoria President Dr Amy Page FPS says that PSA is proud to build on existing support for Victorian pharmacists to deliver high quality care to patients as pharmacist scope continues to evolve.

“We’re excited to offer more support for Victorian pharmacists to grow the scope of their practice under the Victorian Community Pharmacist Statewide Pilot,” Dr Page says.

“More pharmacists will soon be providing treatment for common skin conditions herpes zoster and mild plaque psoriasis flare ups, as well as delivering travel health services. These services, embedded in our local communities means more accessible care for Victorians.

“Pharmacists can now complete training programs in both travel health and skin conditions and offer additional health services backed by nation-leading education and professional support.

“PSA is proudly committed to ensuring that pharmacists are supported with the knowledge and skills required to support Victorians with greater access to health advice in these key clinical areas.”

PSA’s Travel Health and Herpes Zoster (Shingles) and Mild plaque psoriasis modules are available now, free for PSA members.

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

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

SA expands pharmacy services to UTI treatment, 24/7 pharmacy opens

6 February 2024

 

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) welcomes the opening of the first 24/7 community pharmacy in Adelaide over the weekend by SA Health Minister Chris Picton.

At the opening, Minister Picton also announced that pharmacists who undergo additional training will be able to supply treatment for uncomplicated Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) from March 2024.

PSA South Australia and Northern Territory President Dr Manya Angley FPS said that the round-the-clock access to medicines and health advice – including treatment for uncomfortable UTIs – gives consumers confidence in accessibility to health care.

“With support from the State Government, consumers in Adelaide now have 24-hour access to pharmacists, providing peace of mind that if they get sick or need after hours health advice, they will be able to access expert care from a trusted health professional,” Dr Angley said.

“Health care needs can change unpredictably at all hours of the day or night. People who require medicines for pain management or other palliative care medicines can be assured they can access them around-the-clock, along with the advice and expertise of pharmacists ready to help.

“Pharmacists are critical to improving the accessibility of care and reducing unnecessary stress on our hospital systems, helping to triage, manage and consult on acute common ailments like uncomplicated UTIs.

“Giving consumers an option for acute care outside of visiting an emergency department is key, especially out of hours where there are fewer options for care.

“PSA is looking forward to continuing our work with the South Australian Government and Minister Picton to further improve access to quality healthcare, utilising South Australia’s excellent pharmacists.”

PSA’s Managing uncomplicated cystitis training program is now available to all South Australian pharmacists. Successful completion allows the pharmacist to provide an assessment and treatment, if deemed appropriate, for uncomplicated UTIs in women aged 18 to 65, once the program commences in March 2024.

National Pharmacies in Norwood, South Australia is now open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Chemist Warehouse at the Saints Shopping Centre in Salisbury Plain and Chemist Warehouse at Clovelly Park will begin operating 24/7 in coming weeks.

 

 

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

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

Next generation learning for pharmacy assistants, interns

25 January 2024

 

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) has partnered with tech company Audirie to modernise pharmacy assistant and intern training programs, integrating tailored learning tools and real-time assessment into pharmacy education.

PSA learners will soon have access to virtual patients as part of their online learning environment, supporting the real-world application of their training material.

PSA Chief Executive Officer Adj A/Prof Steve Morris welcomed the new partnership, reaffirming the organisation’s commitment to enhanced education across the pharmacy sector.

“As a leader in pharmacy education and training, PSA’s excited to provide learners with new and innovative products as part of their education journey.

“We’re proud to be harnessing technology to give our learners the edge, training in real-life scenarios and better preparing them for their careers.

“Our focus remains firmly on providing high quality, practical education to our members and learners, training them to meet the current and future needs of our communities,” he said.

Audirie Chief Executive Officer Michael Alexander said the partnership represented a groundbreaking approach to education in the pharmacy sector.

“As a pharmacist myself, I am excited to collaborate with the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia and bring Audirie to the forefront of pharmacy education,” he said.

“This partnership is a significant step forward in integrating new technologies into the training and assessment processes, ultimately benefitting pharmacy professionals and the industry as a whole.”

About Audirie

Audirie is a leading provider of AI-driven communication solutions, committed to transforming the way individuals learn and grow. With a focus on immersive learning experiences, Audirie harnesses the power of artificial intelligence to deliver innovative and effective training programs across various industries.

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