EDITORIAL for Monday 6 March 2017

Welcome to the current edition of i2P (Information to Pharmacists) E-Magazine dated Monday 6 March 2017.
Well, it is fair to say that a lot of media reporting and comment surrounded the Fair Work Commission’s decision to reduce Sunday penalty rates to a range of industries that included pharmacy.

To say that the Pharmacy Award is improved by this decision is dubious, to say the least.
When decisions from the supposed independent umpire need almost an immediate political correction to redress the outcry from those affected, is curious to say the least.
When decisions of this type are handed down, the true agenda behind the decision is often hard to understand. That is to say, it is possibly politically tainted and therefore will never make sense.

Limiting comment to pharmacy only, the question needs to be asked is “Who benefits?”

The obvious answer is pharmacy proprietors who want to open on a Sunday.

There is a direct correlation between pharmacist award payments and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) in that the dispensing fee for PBS prescription drugs is directly calculated from award payments to pharmacists.
If pharmacists are paid at an appropriate rate then pharmacy PBS dispensing fees reflect that appropriate rate.

So it is really the federal government that is the primary beneficiary of a reduced award rate to pharmacists.
That the PGA has always taken a hard stance to the payment of pharmacists is purportedly to protect its members.
But is this the true reason and does it have some connection to past arrangements that have involved a conflict of interest involvement by the PGA?
One can only speculate.

However, this does not remove the problem that the entire pharmacist award is not truly reflective of a modern pharmacy environment and a range of clinical and/or management/IT specialties that have yet to be recognised.
Some genuine effort needs to occur before more permanent damage results for the pharmacy profession not being able to attract people to the profession because it does not reward talent appropriately.

Media reports that the PGA is in conflict with the Department of Health in that it is in breach of its risk-sharing agreement and that community pharmacy is owed a substantial payment for its share of the policy changes within the PBS structure.

But wed also see that Greg Hunt, the Minister for Health will be opening the APP Conference, a flagship event for the PGA.
Obviously, this event would be ideal to announce resolution of the supposed conflict otherwise Mr Hunt might not be amenable to putting in an appearance and the PGA would lose an opportunity to demonstrate that it actually provides value to community pharmacy owners in negotiating for a reasonable return from an end-of-life-cycle PBS product.

Whatever the real reason for the various political moves, i2P can only comment that the PGA has little to show for its years of leadership in negotiation with PBS as a public – private partnership and would better to invest in some other type of dispensing system (even a private-only version) to provide better dispensing returns for members and the flow through to the entire profession.

Our lead article for this edition reflects somewhat tangentially to the Pharmacist Award dissension and comments on basic strategies both proactive and defensive, for a future direction. It certainly bets no action or simply standing still waiting for the bus to come along with potential solutions.
Read: Value Over Profit ?

And Gerald Quigley is back with some integrated clinical interventions that could provide a template for a future clinical system that might just add to a pharmacy revenue stream.
At i2P we are aware that health consumers do value such a service.
Read: Fracture – are we involved enough?

Following on from Gerald the Orthomolecular News Service provides some interesting and useful information that would suit Integrative Pharmacists.
Read: Orthomolecular News – Niacin Rescues Cannibalistic Hamsters The Historical Significance of 1940s Mandatory Niacin Enrichment

Barry Urquhart is back with his thoughts on the wider business world experiences in management issues and marketing trends.
If you read thoughtfully you will see that Barry’s thoughts parallel others who write for i2P and you can readily adapt his reasoning to your own environment.
Read: Marketing Focus – Essays on Management & Marketing March 2017

Professions often like to use nomenclature other than the word “sales” when describing their revenue streams, fee incomes etc.
But sales they all are and while sales is a more commercial term, all businesses (including professional practices) need sales.
Harvey Mackay reminds us of this simple fact.
Read: Sales is everyone’s business

While pharmacy leadership has been somewhat slow in pushing pharmacy’s credentials to manage medical cannabis, some awareness is starting to occur.
Pharmacy leaders need to be pushing for immediate access to current cannabis product available to the market (albeit underground) because that market represents access to patients who are already chronically ill and need not to be treated as criminals for bypassing a non-existent structure.
An amnesty for these producers needs to be supported by pharmacists, who need to be given time and grant assistance to bring their already safe product for distribution through an S3 regulated pharmacy environment, backed with decentralised education packages.
If pharmacy leadership really is forward – planning, then that is where their thoughts should be reflected if pharmacy is to benefit from servicing existing and new chronically ill patients.
That medical cannabis is perhaps a major and safe solution to chronic pain is a thought for pharmacists to hold, given that codeine is now lost to them and that it was not a good solution in the first place.
Read: Understanding Medical Cannabis 1. Cannabidiol May Soon be Used in the Emergency Room 2. ODC Issues First Licence to Cann Group

Safe Vaccination – the term that the vocal extremists avoid referencing, means that this is a policy acknowledging that vaccines are a valid form of preventive medicine if manufactured with safety and appropriately tested. Safe vaccination also needs to occur in a non-coercive regulatory environment.
This is what i2P supports and what Dr Judy Wilyman has demonstrated through the discipline of evidence-based medicine.
Our lead article (above) defines a new term “Intelligent Ratbag Activists”(IRA) invented for people who use terrorist methods to promote universal vaccination (safe or unsafe) coercively and not unlike the Irish terrorist version with the same acronym.
Judy writes about the unethical processes she encounters in academia.
Read: The Safe Vaccination Debate – Dr Judy Wilyman Reports

And we conclude our offering for this edition with media releases from some major pharmacy leadership organisations.

PSA – http://i2p.com.au/psa-media-releases-1-new-resources-vaccination-delivery-2-pharmacists-are-healthcare-professionals/

NPS – http://i2p.com.au/nps-media-releases-1-new-chair-for-choosing-wisely-2-copd-program-3-call-for-abstracts-choosing-wisely/

We hope you enjoy this edition and plese do not hesitate to comment in the panel provided at the foot of each article.

Neil Johnston
Editor – i2P E-Magazine
Monday 6 March 2017

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