The week in review

While COVID-19 is still top of the headlines, therapeutic substitution, presenteeism and angry GPs also made the news this week

There was another Australian first this week after last week’s first paperless e-script, with metformin modified-release 500mg being added to the Serious Shortage Medicine Substitution Notice… the first in the country. But as the Pharmacy Guild and the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia pointed out, serious concerns remain about how therapeutic substitution is being handled.

New research looked at presenteeism amongst health care workers as well as the general public, and found most people would go to work with influenza-like illness; another study looked at how much pharmacists are doing for free (perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s a lot). The Australian Medical Association‘s Queensland branch took another swipe at pharmacy, accusing it of using patients as “cash cows” on the back of an article in the AJP.

In COVID-19 news, foot traffic in pharmacy continues to be poor as GPs call for Australians to come back and manage their health; and there’s been a massive spike in flu shots, as people do their best to avoid flu during the pandemic.

A number of politicians including Health Minister Greg Hunt, Labour Health Spokesperson Chris Bowen and Dr Fiona Martin, Liberal Member for Reid, NSW, singled out pharmacies for praise over their work during the COVID-19 pandemic; in the UK, the Royal Family also got into the act, thanking members of the profession everywhere via social media.

We spoke to stakeholders including Discount Drug Stores, MedAdvisor and Sydney pharmacist Caroline Diamantis about how COVID-19 has changed how the sector does business; and whether measures such as using hand sanitiser and Perspex shields is likely to become permanent.

Darren Roberts and Alexandra Bennett warned that health professionals need to be on the alert for inappropriate prescribing for COVID-19; while researchers from the Therapeutic Goods Administration and the University of Queensland looked at another epidemic, that of misinformation around the coronavirus.

And one pharmacist, Karlee Johnston, is studying an issue important to many members of the profession, especially at the moment: burnout, specifically in the context of COVID-19. To find out how to take part, click here.

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