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Australian Journal of Pharmacy : February 2005
news news HEPharmacy Guild of Australia has joined with the pharmaceutical wholesalers (Sigma, Mayne and API) to establish a national approach to help improve pharmacy aid to victims of the Boxing Day tsunami. Pharmacy joins support for tsunami victims T ‘The agreement will establish a proce- dure whereby member pharmacies who wish to do so can donate a dollar value through their wholesaler,’ wrote Guild national president John Bronger in a let- ter to members. ‘The money will then be used to pur- chase the most needed medicines and medical supplies, for the priority areas as identified by AusAID.’ The national approach is expected to simplify logistical issues, as so many phar- macies and other industry members have indicated a willingness to help assist with the aid effort. It is also expected to make distribution of supplies more efficient in tsunami-affected areas. ‘It will also ensure that the provision of supplies will be made in an effective and orderly manner, as well as in line with the World Health Organization’s Guidelines for Drug Donations, and Australia’s Guidelines for Drug Donations to Devel- oping Countries,’ Mr Bronger wrote. ‘These guidelines, among other things, seek to avoid the past problem of relief efforts resulting in large amounts of med- icines being wasted and the recipient countries left with the financial and envi- ronmental burden of their disposal. ‘Perhaps most importantly, our national approach reflects the expressed preference of most of our members that aid from community pharmacy in Aus- tralia should be directed towards the sup- ply of pharmaceuticals to those areas dev- astated by the tsunami.’ The Guild’s national secretariat was encouraging member pharmacies to wait before providing donations until the agreement was finalised. Meanwhile, the pharmaceutical indus- try has provided generous support to the international aid effort. For example, Pfizer (global) has donated US$10 million to aid relief, as well as US$25 million worth of healthcare products. Pfizer Australia is matching all donations made by employees to relief agencies, among other measures. Alphapharm has pledged $300,000 in cash and/or urgent supplies of medi- cines, and has already supplied a first shipment of two tonnes of medicines specifically requested by the Sri Lanka Health Ministry. RUM survey P And Overseas Pharmaceutical Aid for Life (OPAL), a registered relief agency based in Adelaide, had already distributed 500 emergency kits as of the time of printing, with another 500 about to be distributed. The kits include pharmaceutical and medical products donated by Australian drug companies, as well as vitamin and mineral products donated by Australian complementary healthcare companies. ¦ HARMABROKERSales is again set to assist with a survey of pharmacies regarding the Return Unwanted Medi- cines (RUM) project. The company’s sales representatives will survey pharmacists’ attitudes towards and knowledge of the RUM project, as well as delivering a RUMproject calendar card for each pharmacy visited, describ- ing the RUM project protocols. ‘The RUM project is a successful addi- tion to the Quality Use of Medicines strategy, with consumers returning unwanted medicines in increasing amounts,’ said RUM project manager Simon Appel. ¦ HIC extends pharmacy’s Medicare gatekeeper role A pilot program that allows pharmacies to electronically check the validity of healthcare concession cards is expected to be rolled out more widely this year. The pilot program involved 75 phar- macies, and its expansion is part of a Fed- eral Government crackdown aimed at preventing invalid use of the cards by GP patients. Meanwhile the Health Insurance Com- mission is reviewing more than 110,000 rejected claims for payment of the $5.10 GP incentive to bulk bill patients holding the concession cards. Doctor groups have expressed concern that some of the patients ruled ineligible by the HIC had appeared to be eligible when checked by the doctors. Michael Tatchell, director of health eco- nomics at the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, said that there had been some administra- tive difficulties with the pilot program. ‘We’ve received anecdotal feedback that the checking process, even though it worked well, was taking extra time during the transaction,’ he said. ‘However we support the idea of ensur- ing that any entitled people have access to concessional pharmaceutical benefits, and don’t endorse that people who aren’t enti- tled should get them. ‘We’ll know more when the HIC has fin- ished its full report on the project.’ The HIC is evaluating the pilot program and a full report is expected in the near future. ¦ THE AUSTRALIAN JOURNAL OF PHARMACY VOL 86 FEBRUARY 2005 ? 69