Home' Australian Pharmacist : Australian Pharmacist November 2015 Contents Australian Pharmacist November 2015 I ©Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Ltd. 17
as Dr Pat Oakley of King's College
London, so eloquently called this space.
Pharmacists can greatly assist
governments manage the GP overload,
reduce emergency department burden,
reduce hospitalisations and manage
the elderly at home. Pharmacists could
have an expanded role in the diagnosis
and treatment of minor ailments,
the monitoring and management of
chronic disease, in assisting patients
with self management of their long
term conditions, and in assisting
patients to navigate the health system.
However pharmacists need to receive
appropriate reimbursement for these
clinical services. Just as there was a
revolutionary rise of specialist nurses,
so should there be a revolutionary
change in the pharmacist workforce,
with pharmacists described by their skill
sets, rather than their work location.
The RPS conference speakers implored
pharmacists to undertake a reality check
on the sustainability of current practice.
They stated that evolving health services
will require pharmacy to adapt its
practice. Pharmacies should become
healthy living centres assisting patient
wellness. The speakers suggested that
in future, most pharmacists will not be
needed to dispense or supply products,
but for their advice and clinical
expertise. Pharmacists should become
'community clinicians' and controllers of
that 'place in the middle.'
International economics, spiralling
health costs and demanding taxpayers
will continue to transform the health
system. As Dr Ridge said: 'The stars are
aligning for a clinical and digital future'
which will change the face of pharmacy.
1. NHS England. The Five Year Forward View. At: www.
2. Office of National Statistics. Changes in the Older Resident
Care Home Population between 2001 and 2011. At: www.
3. The Health Foundation and Nuffield Trust. Hospital
admissions from care homes. At: www.qualitywatch.org.uk/
Gene patent overturned
The High Court's finding that a human gene cannot be patented is a
victory for consumers, researchers, and for common sense according to the
Consumers Health Forum.
However, Medicines Australia has said
it is 'of concern to innovative medicines
sector and could have significant
negative impact on access to new and
innovative biological medicines in
The High Court unanimously allowed
an appeal from a decision of the Full
Court of the Federal Court of Australia.
The High Court held that an isolated
nucleic acid, coding for a BRCA1 protein,
with specific variations from the norm
that are indicative of susceptibility
to breast cancer and ovarian cancer,
was not a 'patentable invention' within
the meaning of s 18(1)(a) of the Patents
Act 1990 (Cth) ('the Act').
The High Court ruled that the term
'nucleic acid' includes two kinds of
molecules, deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA)
and ribonucleic acid (RNA), which are
found inside a human cell. A gene is a
functional unit of DNA which encodes a
particular protein produced by the cell.
The protein produced depends on the
sequence of nucleotides. The BRCA1
gene codes for the production of a
protein called BRCA1.
The Full Court held that an isolated
nucleic acid was chemically, structurally
and functionally different from a nucleic
acid inside a human cell. The invention
was a manner of manufacture because
an isolated nucleic acid with the
characteristics specified in Claims 1 to
3 resulted in an artificially created state
of affairs for economic benefit.
The Court unanimously allowed the
appeal, holding that the invention
claimed did not fall within the
concept of a manner of manufacture.
The Court held that, having regard
to the relevant factors, an isolated
nucleic acid, coding for the BRCA1
protein, with specified variations, is not
a manner of manufacture. While the
invention claimed might be, in a formal
sense, a product of human action,
it was the existence of the information
stored in the relevant sequences
that was an essential element of the
invention as claimed. A plurality of
the Court considered that to attribute
patentability to the invention as claimed
would involve an extension of the
concept of a manner of manufacture
which was not appropriate for judicial
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