The week in review

Image: Western Sydney Local Health District (

As some parts of the nation under lockdown take steps to open up, rapid antigen testing in pharmacy was big news… and so were suggested changes to the PBS copay

In COVID-19 news this week, the Therapeutic Goods Administration announced that it will allow companies to formally apply for TGA regulatory approval to legally supply their rapid antigen self-tests for use at home in a move welcomed by Pharmacy Guild of Australia national president Trent Twomey. And community pharmacies in key parts of Victoria are being offered grants of up to $10,000 to help them use their full COVID-19 vaccine allocations, which was welcomed by Guild Victorian branch president Anthony Tassone.

The Guild presented its suggested medicines affordability reforms, under which general patients would pay a $19 copayment for prescription medicines from as early as 1 January 2022, in a move interpreted by the mainstream media as declaring “war” on discounters like Chemist Warehouse. Chemist Warehouse responded that it would be a backwards step for consumers due to the inability to discount scripts below the copay.

The TGA handed Tianda Pharmaceuticals Australia two infringement notices totalling $26,640 for advertising its listed medicine, then called ‘Anti-Epidemic Formula 1’, on eBay for therapeutic uses in relation to COVID-19.

The Australian Association of Consultant Pharmacy announced that former Guild national president George Tambassis is to be its new chair. We heard insights from the Guild’s recent Student Summit.

Sigma Healthcare made a conditional non-binding indicative proposal to acquire 100% of Australian Pharmaceutical Industries, beating Wesfarmers‘ latest bid and prompting the Guild to say it will keep an eye on the buyout for “possible implications”.

In research news, PhD candidate Bernice Prior is looking at whether pharmacists’ own values are acting as a barrier for charging for cognitive services. And a new report released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare revealed the impact of the pandemic on prescription rates, which declined by 6%.

Pharmacists around the world took the opportunity to celebrate World Pharmacists Day last Saturday, with International Pharmaceutical Federation president Dominique Jordan telling members of the profession that they were more vital than ever, playing a key role in combating vaccine hesitancy. In Australia there was a special message for pharmacists from Health Minister Greg Hunt, and celebrations around the country.

And congratulations to Pharmacist of the Year Linda Badewitz-Dodd, Early Career Pharmacist of the Year Maria Berbecaru and Intern Pharmacist of the Year Erin Cooper, who were named as the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia‘s top pharmacists this year… as well as Valerie Constable and John Ware OAM, dual recipients of the PSA Symbion Lifetime Achievement Award.

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