NPS Media Releases – Four Current Releases


Leading local and international medical experts and health professionals will converge in Canberra from 18-20 May 2016 to take part in the ninth National Medicines Symposium: Making wise decisions about medicines, tests and technologies (NMS 2016).

With a reputation as Australia’s leading medicines symposium, NMS 2016 will bring together some of the most influential people in the health sector to debate and discuss current quality use of medicines, medical tests and medical technologies issues for consumers, health professionals and the broader health landscape.

This year the scope of the symposium has broadened to health technologies beyond medicines which will encourage new and exciting conversations and insights as part of the program.

The theme of ‘Making wise decisions about medicines, tests and technologies: co-designing policy, practice and priorities’ will centre on three program streams:

*  Foundations: exploring issues relating to evidence, knowledge, access, quality, and safety

*  Sustainable systems which will consider aspect like policy, regulatory, workforce and cost

*  In practice will examine topics like models of care, health literacy and enabling best practice.

Over the years NMS has gone from strength to strength and is now the leading symposium on advancing quality use of medicines,” said NPS MedicineWise CEO Dr Lynn Weekes.

NMS draws experts from across the health sector together and this combination of people and decision makers creates a truly unique event where cross-disciplinary conversations emphasise and enable solutions and contemporary thinking.”

The NMS 2016 Program Committee warmly invites individuals, organisations and/or consortia to make a submission to be part of the program. While in previous years we have invited traditional abstracts for oral presentations, this year is different with an open invitation to submit an abstract for one of the following:

*  Lightning talks (five minute plenary presentation)

*  To host a panel discussion or workshop

*  Pitching session (opportunity to ‘pitch’ an idea or innovation)

*  Posters (for display at the symposium).

Submissions can be up to 300 words and will be peer-reviewed and assessed for inclusion in the program. Abstracts should align with one of the three symposium streams and clearly outline the objective and scope of your proposal.

The closing date for submission is Monday 29 February 2016.
Visit for more details.


Rates of sexually transmitted infections continue to rise despite years of safe sex promotion. There are now concerns that these infections are becoming resistant to antibiotics.

In the latest issue of Australian Prescriber, Catriona Ooi and David Lewis from the Western Sydney Sexual Health Centre provide a detailed update on sexually transmitted infections.

Dr Ooi says, “Doctors are particularly concerned about newly acquired HIV, gonorrhoea and syphilis in Australia. More needs to be done to prevent, identify and effectively treat infections.”

The article provides the latest information on:

*  Screening—who should be screened, what infections they should be screened for, and which tests should be done

*  Specific considerations for men who have sex with men

*  Tracing and notifying previous sexual partners.

In Australia, most sexually transmitted infections are managed in general practice. The authors say, “GPs have an important role in caring for patients with sexually transmitted infections, in educating patients about unsafe sex, and encouraging regular screening for people at risk of infection. The whole community needs to acknowledge and tackle the rising rates of sexually transmitted infection.”

Dr Ooi and Professor Lewis also cover best practice for screening and treatment of:

*  Chlamydia: Chlamydia continues to be of concern, particularly in young people. Most infections remain asymptomatic and untreated.

*  Gonorrhoea: The incidence of gonorrhoea almost doubled between 2008 and 2012 and there is growing resistance to antibiotic treatments in Australia.

*  Mycoplasma genitalium infection: There is increasing evidence that M. genitalium can cause pelvic inflammatory disease, and infections of the urethra and cervix.

*  Genital herpes: There is a high prevalence of type 1 and type 2 infection in Australia. For recurrent herpes, antiviral treatments have become shorter, allowing patients more choice for managing their infection.

*  HIV: Regular screening for populations with an ongoing risk of infection is advised. Increasing HIV rates have prompted a change in the approach to treatment, and patients are now being treated earlier.

*  Human papillomavirus (HPV): Genital warts and pre-cancerous lesions have become less common in young people since the introduction of the HPV vaccine. 

*  Syphilis: Syphilis has increased from 5/100,000 in 2004 to 14/100,000 in 2013 (the highest number ever recorded in Australia). This is almost exclusively in men who have sex with men.

*  Hepatitis B: Rates of newly acquired infections are slowly decreasing. Sexual transmission accounts for 15–25% of cases. Hepatitis B is a preventable infection and vaccination should be considered.

To read the full article, go to


Latest issue of Australian Prescriber out now

New treatments for hepatitis C are reviewed in the latest issue of Australian Prescriber by gastroenterologists Alex Thompson and Jacinta Holmes.

Drs Thompson and Holmes say, “Hepatitis C treatment has moved along at a dramatic pace with a number of direct-acting drugs recently developed such as sofosbuvir. These drugs target multiple steps in the viral life cycle and are used in combination with other medicines. Shorter courses are effective, with minimal toxicity.”

“All patients should be considered for treatment and actively engaged in care,” say the authors. “With a hepatitis C epidemic, these treatments will play a front-line role in preventing progressive liver disease.”

It is estimated that more than 230,000 Australians are chronically infected with the hepatitis C virus. Currently hepatitis C is managed mainly by specialists. However, with the advent of these new drugs, it may be possible for some patients to be managed in primary care.

To read the full article, go to

The article includes a continuing professional development activity for pharmacists, available at

Also in the latest issue:

*  Online pharmacies: buyer beware

*  Opioid prescribing pitfalls: medicolegal and regulatory issues

*  Depression in dementia

*  Medicinal cannabis

*  Updating the management of sexually transmitted infections

*  Medicines Australia Code of Conduct: breaches

*  New drugsdaclatasvir for hepatitis Cledipasvir with sofosbuvir for hepatitis Cponatinib for chronic myeloid leukaemiatofacitinib for rheumatoid arthritisvedolizumab for inflammatory bowel disease


Controversies abound in how to produce, supply and administer medicinal cannabis. In the latest issue of Australian Prescriber, Dr Bridin Murnion from the University of Sydney examines the clinical applications and challenges of introducing medicinal cannabis into Australia.

Medicinal cannabis is the term used to refer to the therapeutic use of cannabis and its constituents. Cannabinoids are the chemical components of cannabis. Cannabidiol is a cannabinoid that has possible uses including for spasticity and pain in multiple sclerosis, cancer-associated nausea and vomiting, cancer pain and HIV neuropathy.

Nabiximols is the only registered cannabinoid in Australia at present. It is only intended for use in patients with multiple sclerosis.

The author says, “It is imperative that debate around medicinal cannabis is not confused with legalisation of ‘recreational’ marijuana. Cannabidiol does not have a psychoactive effect.”

“There are many challenges in considering medicinal cannabis, as well as significant community pressure, for wider use. Legislation around medicinal cannabis is therefore complex and evolving.”

A medicinal cannabis bill is currently under consideration by the Australian Parliament. This bill, if enacted, would provide a system for regulating cannabis independent of the Therapeutic Goods Administration and a system for cannabis cultivation and production. Development of such a regulatory system will likely be costly.

“If medicinal cannabis is to be introduced,” Dr Murnion says, “it should be supported with prescriber and consumer education, prescriber peer review, a robust authority process and pharmacovigilance for adverse events. Hopefully we can prevent the emergence of the problems seen with prescription opioids and benzodiazepines.”

To read the full article, go to

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