Home' Australian Pharmacist : February 2013 Contents 16 Australian Pharmacist February 2013 I ©Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Ltd.
MA Code of conduct
Medicines Australia (MA) member
companies will for the first time
disclose aggregate payments to
doctors and consumer groups under
a new Code of Conduct which has
received the green light from the
Australian Competition and Consumer
Commission (ACCC). MA has accepted
the ACCC's decision to authorise the
Code for two years. MA members
have overwhelmingly supported
looking at even further transparency
measures in the future. An industry/
stakeholder Transparency Working
Group will make recommendations
on further transparency of companies'
interactions with doctors in 2013.
MA Chief Executive Dr Brendan Shaw
said the authorisation of the new Code
and the industry's establishment of
the stakeholder Transparency Working
Group heralded a new era of greater
transparency and disclosure.
Website showcases health
An interactive website featuring
of examples of innovative health
workforce reform occurring across
Australia has been launched by Health
Workforce Australia (HWA). The Health
Workforce Innovation in Australia -- a
National Inventory website showcases
how individuals and organisations are
driving health workforce reform across
the Australian health, higher education
and training sectors. The website
has been delivered as part of the
National Health Workforce Innovation
and Reform Strategic Framework for
Action 2011-2015 -- an overarching
national platform that guides future
health workforce policy and planning
in Australia. To view the website go to
Cautionary advisory label 8
In response to a query about the deletion
of the word 'skin' from label 8 when
dispensing hydroxychloroquine products,
the following guidance may assist
Deleting the word 'skin' from label 8
broadens the wording to read Avoid
excessive exposure to sunlight and sunlamps
while being treated with this medicine.
This deletion advises consumers that
parts of the body other than just the skin
(e.g. eyes) should not receive excessive
exposure to sunlight and sunlamps.
This recommendation has been
informed by the product information
for hydroxychloroquine which states:
'The use of sunglasses in patients exposed
to strong sunlight is recommended,
as this may be an amplifying factor in
retinopathy'. Protection from the sun
should not be limited to the skin because
strong sunlight may be associated with
TB drug a milestone
The US Food and Drug Administration's
(FDA) approval of bedaquiline, the first new
drug treatment for tuberculosis (TB) to be
registered since 1963, has been welcomed by
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).
Dr Manica Balasegaram, Executive Director
of the MSF Access Campaign said that the
new drug, the first to treat TB in 50 years,
was an immense milestone.
'The fact that the drug is active against
drug-resistant forms of the disease makes
it a potential game changer.'
Presently, treatment for multidrug-resistant
TB (MDR-TB) is a two-year course of up to
20 different pills per day and around eight
months of daily injections. Patients are
subjected to excruciating side effects,
ranging from permanent deafness
and persistent nausea to psychosis.
Globally, only 48% of people who start
treatment for drug resistant TB are cured.
In MSF's program, the cure rate is slightly
better -- 53% -- but still unacceptably
low. MSF treated 26,600 TB patients in
36 countries in 2011 -- 1,300 of whom had
drug-resistant forms of the disease.
Dr. Balasegaram said, 'Ministries of
health and drug regulators need to
work together to make sure people with
MDR-TB benefit from this important
medical advance as soon as possible'.
According to MSF the scale of drug
resistant TB is huge, with 310,000 new
cases notified in 2011. But only 19% of
people thought to be infected are
receiving treatment globally.
Vaccinations numbers could
Vaccinations against influenza and
pneumococcal infection could be
higher among people with obstructive
airways disease if guidelines were being
followed, according to a newly released
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
'People with obstructive airways
disease are at a higher risk of invasive
pneumococcal disease,' said AIHW
spokesperson Professor Guy Marks.
While those with obstructive airways
disease are no more likely than others
to experience influenza infection, they
are more likely to have complications
following influenza infection.
'Therefore medical guidelines in Australia
recommend influenza and pneumococcal
vaccinations for people with obstructive
The report, Vaccination uptake among
people with chronic respiratory disease,
shows that uptake of these vaccinations,
while better in people with asthma
or COPD than in those without these
conditions, is not at the recommended
100% level, as recommended in
'The limited data we have available on
this topic show that the best vaccination
coverage among people with asthma
or COPD is for those aged 65 or older,
with coverage in the 60--80% range,'
Professor Marks said.
This compares with a 40--70% range for
those without asthma or COPD in this
Avoid excessive skin exposure
to sunlight and sunlamps while
being treated with this medicine.
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