Home' Australian Pharmacist : Australian Pharmacist June 2013 Contents 30 Australian Pharmacist June 2013 I ©Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Ltd.
'You're not cheating, but it's certainly
foolhardy. Any time you ingest a
substance or use some kind of a method,
you should be as informed as you possibly
can be about the effects, the cause, the
contents, and be very wary of something
that may have been pulled from a list
of approved medications or substances
because there's usually a reason why the
When in doubt
needed to ask
questions when they
had doubts about
a prescription for
a medicine which
may be prohibited
in a particular code of sport or which they
believed may be harmful.
The risks were underestimated by most
athletes, he said.
'They think whatever the risks are they are
minimal and that is just wrong,' he said.
'As pharmacists we have a role to help
people appreciate how we will support
them and fulfil our duty of care to help
manage them and minimise the risks.
'I think a pharmacist, if they have concerns
of the possible impact of any prescription
on outcomes of that person's health or their
wellbeing, or the legality of the medicine,
has two obligations,' he said.
'One is to explain the nature of that risk,
and second to provide options on how to
manage that risk; for instance recommend
alternatives or refer them back to the doctor
to make sure the medicine is appropriate.
'I think a simple refusal to dispense is not
in the best interests of the athlete as the
critical thing is to help them understand
why it is prohibited.
'If I think about an action, a positive way
pharmacists can support athletes, it's
about understanding that some medicines,
even though they are legal and might
be therapeutically appropriate, may be
prohibited in the sport relevant to that
'Adding to the complexity, some athletes
may get a therapeutic use exemption for
selected medicines as well. This is part of
the very complex range of situations that
pharmacists maybe faced with.
'So drugs in sport are not just about legality
of supply and the appropriateness of use.'
Geoff Sussman says the reality is that,
regardless of the risks, some athletes will
use prohibited substances or supplements
which are potentially dangerous.
'Pharmacists have to be aware there will be
people who use, particularly body builders
and people like that,' he said.
'What is critical it that they need to be
aware of what the risks are because there
are very significant risks involved with the
use of things like anabolic steroids and
'But there are very few pharmacists with the
high level knowledge about this so we have
to educate pharmacists as well as athletes.'
Professor Ken Fitch, Chair of the Australian
Sports Drug Medical Advisory Committee
(ASDMAC), said supplements were a
'Supplements are very, very complicated
and there are many issues. Generally the
stuff sold in retail pharmacy is OK, but not
always,' he said.
'The problem is that some batches are
fine and others are not as sometimes
impurities can get into the product and
this causes major problems. So athletes
can be doing everything right and still
find they have taken, quite inadvertently,
a prohibited substance.'
'Another issue is that a very large amount
of these supplements are purchased online
and many of these are made in clandestine
labs in China. I am on the Australian Drugs
Research Panel and we sponsored research
by the NMI (National Measuring Institute)
who have tested these products, and
they have found that about 50% might
have what they say, 25% may have things
in them that are not on the label, and
25% claim to have things in them which
they don't,' Professor Fitch said.
Compounding pharmacists were
mentioned in the Australian Crime
Commission report which highlighted the
extent of the use of drugs in sport.
But Jenny Giam, Regulatory Affairs Manager
of the Professional Compounding Chemists
Association, says this does not make
compounding pharmacists complicit in any
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