Home' Australian Pharmacist : Australian Pharmacist November 2012 Contents 848 Australian Pharmacist November 2012 I ©Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Ltd.
The moratorium on Cabinet deferrals
of the PBS listing of some new
medicines has been extended to
June 2014. Medicines Australia Chief
Executive, Dr Brendan Shaw, said
while the extension was positive,
it did not provide a lasting solution
to a policy issue that has been
criticised by consumer groups as well
as industry, doctors, academics and
the media. 'This move represents a
step forward, but it's disappointing
that the Government hasn't taken
the opportunity to put this issue
to bed. This moratorium applies
only to medicines that will cost the
PBS less than $10 million a year.
Uncertainty remains for the listing
of other medicines on to the PBS,'
Dr Shaw said.
More Australians seek help
More than 10,000 Australians
contacted SANE Australia's Helpline in
the past 12 months, seeking advice for
mental illness and suicide-prevention
issues. Enquiries to the national
free-call helpline (1800 18 SANE) rose
27% during the period July 2011 to
June 2012, as compared with the same
period the previous year. Women
seeking help outnumbered men,
three to one. SANE Australia's CEO,
Jack Heath said, 'Just under half the
callers were enquiring about support
in the community, while a further
third were asking about treatment.
The increase in SANE Helpline activity
may in part be due to a greater
willingness to talk about mental illness,
which is very encouraging,' he said.
Not all fat created equal for
Carrying too much weight during
pregnancy can place both mother and
child at risk. However, new research from
the University of Sydney has discovered
that one type of fat is riskier than another
for mums and unborn babies.
The research also suggests how
ultrasound can accurately measure the
type of fat associated with the biggest
Professor Ralph Nanan from Sydney
Medical School Nepean and lead author
of two studies outlining the findings
said, 'Critically this research will be useful
for judging the dangers for overweight
or obese pregnant mothers. The results
could also be helpful in measuring the
success of strategies to address obesity.
The first study recently published in
Obstetric Medicine, analysed over 9,000
pregnancies and found that more than
50% of Australian pregnant women are
either overweight or obese.
This is consistent with World Health
Organisation figures that estimate in
developed countries 35-60 percent of
women of reproductive age are either
overweight or obese.
The study found that the risk of
developing complications, such as
hypertension or diabetes in pregnancy
or the need for a caesarean section,
increases with the level of obesity but that
not all obese women are equally likely to
develop these sorts of complications.
'What we found is that how the fat is
distributed in the body is a significant
factor when judging weight-related
health risks. In this context fat around the
inner organs, referred to as visceral fat, is
more dangerous than peripheral fat, the
fat around our extremities.
'While we might assume that someone
with a big belly has a high level of visceral
fat and someone with fat on their legs
and bottom has high levels of peripheral
fat, in a medical setting we need to make
objective measures and not rely on
impressions and this is especially true for
'We need the most accurate diagnostic
tool possible to decide if the fat on your
stomach is a sign of peripheral fat around
In the second study, just published in
the Australian New Zealand Journal
of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the
researchers from the University of Sydney
and University of Melbourne addressed
this problem by using ultrasound to
measure abdominal (subcutaneous) fat
thickness. They analysed 1,200 images
of pregnant women, taken as a part of a
routine ultrasound conducted midway
through a pregnancy.
Subcutaneous fat is not exactly the same
as visceral fat but it is a highly accurate
indicator of its levels.
'We found that these simple, safe and
inexpensive measurements gave us a
much better predictor of obesity-related
pregnancy outcomes than routinely used
measures such as the Body Mass Index
(BMI). The BMI is calculated by simply
using a woman's weight and height
measurements,' Professor Nanan said.
Both studies were supported by the
Nepean Medical Research Foundation,
the Australian Women and Children's
Research Foundation and the local
Nepean community. The researchers are
currently confirming their new measure
for obesity in pregnancy in a larger
'The research also
the type of fat
associated with the
biggest health risks. '
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