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Australian Journal of Pharmacy : November 2006
pharmacy profe pharmacy professional updates OCTORShave been advised to act with caution when prescribing long-acting asthma drugs due to increased risks of severe asthma episodes which could lead to death, says Dr Peter Wark from the Hunter Medical Research Institute, Newcastle. Long-acting beta-2 agonists, such as salmeterol and eformoterol, are fre- quently prescribed drugs for asthma. Writing in the latest issue of Australian Prescriber, Dr Wark said: ‘recent studies have led the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to change the labelling on the drugs to include a warning about the increased risks. This is a significant warning that should encourage all doctors to be especially cau- Safety concerns over asthma drug D Facts on tious with long-acting beta-2 agonists’. To avoid these problems, it is important that long-acting beta-2 agonists should not be used alone to treat asthma, but in conjunction with inhaled corticosteroids. Patients should also have a clear, writ- ten action plan to treat loss of asthma con- trol safely. The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme restricts the use of combination inhalers to those who have first been stabilised on inhaled corticosteroids and long-acting beta-2 agonists given from separate inhalers. Contact the National Prescribing Ser- vice Therapeutic Advice and Information Service on 1300 138 677 for further infor- mation. Know your allergic rhinitis and asthma A timely guide that provides a step-by- step approach to managing allergic rhinitis in people with asthma has been launched by the National Asthma Coun- cil Australia and the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy. Allergic rhinitis and the patient with asthma, provides a comprehensive approach to asthma management for health profes- sionals, including investigation of allergic rhinitis and effective treatment. A consumer information brochure, Allergic rhinitis and your asthma—What you should know, has been launched to support the health professionals’ guide. ¦ morphine and opioids A brochure is available to dispel the myths that surround opioids and their correct use in terminally ill patients. Designed by Palliative Care Australia, in consultation with expert clinicians and consumer advisers, the brochure is called Facts about morphine and other opioid medicines in palliative care. The brochure provides facts about pain medication as well as links to the right sources for further information about: • pain and options for pain relief, includ- ing opioids; According to Associate Professor Mimi Tang, chairperson of the expert working group responsible for writing the new resources, the prevalence of allergic rhini- tis is increasing: ‘With seasonal allergic rhinitis set to peak over the spring and summer, these resources will provide health professionals with the latest evidence-based information at a critical time,’ he said. National distribution of the publica- tions to doctors and pharmacists is under way. Both publications can be down- loaded from www.nationalasthma.org.au or ordered directly on 1800 032 495. ¦ Let’s talk about menopause T HE Australasian Menopause Soci- ety (AMS) has launched Menopause Monologues, a menopause information kit, to healthcare professionals. Associate Professor Rodney Baber, from Royal North Shore Hospital, Syd- ney, and past president of the AMS, 22 ? THE AUSTRALIAN JOURNAL OF PHARMACY VOL 87 NOVEMBER 2006 • looking after medicines safely; • correct medication use; • accurate information about what the patient is experiencing is vital to achiev- ing the best pain management plan. Professor Margaret O’Connor, Presi- dent of Palliative Care Australia, advises that patients and carers often fear addic- tion and believe that if they ‘grin and bear’ the pain now and not take their medi- cines—the medicine will still work for them when then really need it. Evidence has found that when patients, families and carers do not have the right information, and are unable to discuss their fears, they do no take medicines cor- rectly—and critically, may not be experi- encing the best pain relief possible. Visit www.pallcare.org.au or call (02) 6232 4433 for a copy of the brochure. ¦ worked with the AMS to develop the kit. ‘In light of recent media and medical community focus on menopause and hor- mone replacement therapy, there is a strong need to educate women about menopause, its symptoms and available treatment options,’ he said. ‘Menopause Monologues has been pro- duced to tackle menopause head on and dispel the myths that have been generated by recent media reports. ‘The kit will assist healthcare profes- sionals in providing women with the most up-to-date information available and pro- mote dialogue about menopause and a woman’s long-term health.’ ¦