Home' Australian Pharmacist : Australian Pharmacist October 2012 Contents Australian Pharmacist October 2012 I ©Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Ltd. 753
THE NATIONAL PRESIDENT SAYS
The release of the PSA online guidelines
for use by pharmacists providing
medicines use review (MedsCheck)
and diabetes medication management
(Diabetes MedsCheck) services is timely
for a number of reasons.
The MedsCheck services have also
provided a new vehicle for increased
and high-value communication between
pharmacists and patients, and it is during
such communication that the issue of
adverse drug events may well surface.
In today's information rich environment,
such conversations between a pharmacist
and their patients take on a new
relevance and importance.
Today's consumer has access to an
unprecedented amount of information
on just about every imaginable topic,
including heath and medicines.
For the consumer the volume of
information about medicines,
their bene ts and risks can at times be
overwhelming. This can raise issues for
consumers and health professionals as
to how to ensure ongoing quality use of
medicines when the consumer has access
to a barrage of information.
The TGA is an important source of
reporting and providing information
in relation to adverse events. The TGA
reporting system and the NPS Medicines
telephone line allow for reporting of
adverse events with the aim of promoting
openness and accuracy regarding
adverse medicine events. It also seeks
to identify trends in adverse medicine
events to know when, where and how
things go wrong and then integrates
the information into health systems,
to improve safety and quality.
Recently, the TGA opened up its adverse
events website for general access and
this makes available reports on more
than 250,000 adverse events. While such
transparency certainly is to be welcomed,
we as a profession must make sure
that this information is used properly
The TGA website is especially important
and valuable because it provides a central
database reporting adverse events which
otherwise may go unreported. Therefore
it is incumbent upon us to encourage our
patients to report any issues they have
with their medicines, and to ensure they
are included on the database.
In addition, it is important that we
identify genuine adverse events from
those instances where a consumer may
simply not like the medicine they are
taking or have a very mild reaction. In my
community pharmacy I had cases of
people coming in and saying they were
allergic to a particular drug but when
I counselled them it was clear they simply
had a very mild reaction such as nausea.
A concern about this, of course, is that if
listed as an allergy, it may preclude the
use of this drug at a time when it may
We need to make sure such examples
don't become recorded as major
adverse events while at the same time
encouraging consumers to report any
side e ects. It is a delicate balancing
act which pharmacists in community
pharmacy face, and will continue to face
on an increasing scale into the future.
Opening the TGA database gives
consumers the opportunity to access
a wealth of information which they
may then apply to their own situation.
We should be aware that we may have
to unravel this new found expertise
that they may bring with them into the
pharmacy and want to discuss with us.
This certainly puts additional strains
on our daily business operations, but it
is nevertheless an important service
we have to o er. At times this will
be providing advice, at other times
counselling and even at times reassuring
patients who have read something
which has raised fears for them about the
medicines they are taking.
However, we should always impress
upon all our customers that no matter
what information they pick up from the
internet or elsewhere, they should never
stop taking medicines without consulting
a health professional.
The issue is that the accuracy of
information available on websites and
even sources such as the TGA, which are
generally totally trustworthy, can err.
Recently, the TGA admitted it had made
a mistake in an article published in the
August 2012 issue of Medicines Safety
Update concerning paracetamol-induced
I have no doubt any consumer reading
this and the subsequent retraction could
be confused as to what the issue is and
what the dangers are of any paracetamol
doses they are taking.
Catherine King, Parliamentary Secretary
for Health and Ageing, said she hoped
opening up the TGA website would
encourage sharing of negative episodes.
'This is a great advance in transparency
by Australia's medicines regulator and
I expect the public and industry will
welcome this information resource which
will improve reporting of adverse events,'
Ms King did, however, remind pharmacists
to continue reporting adverse reactions
so that the TGA could promptly respond
to any major safety concerns.
The continued accurate reporting of
adverse events is critical for the e cacy of
the database and to ensure quality use of
medicines and we pharmacists are critical
to this process.
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