The week in review


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Another week into the COVID-19 pandemic, and as restrictions tighten on socialising and service provision, it’s been another huge week in pharmacy

There’s been a flurry of change to legislation, with NSW, Victoria and Western Australia extending the provisions for emergency supply thanks to the pandemic. In NSW, it’s been announced that key retailers such as supermarkets, pharmacies and corner stores will be permitted to operate 24 hours a day.

The Department of Health put new restrictions on hydroxychloroquine initiation after a spike in ‘just in case’ overprescribing for COVID-19, while the Heart Foundation told heart patients not to stop taking their medicines after concerns were raised about certain drugs and worse COVID-19 outcomes… and also not to stockpile.

Stakeholders reached out with ways to help pharmacists cope with the pandemic: the Pharmacists’ Support Service‘s Kay Dunkley had some tips here, and PDL‘s Gary West also suggested some strategies. Meanwhile Coles announced that pharmacists are among the essential health workers who will have their own shopping hour twice a week.

Thanks to the pandemic, the Pharmacy Board of Australia is now considering how to handle intern pharmacist exams scheduled for the first half of the year.

Medicines shortages continue, with MedAdvisor letting us know that orders are up more than 130% on the platform, plus which medicines are most in demand. And the Pharmacy Guild‘s Trent Twomey urged caution when it comes to looking for reasons for stock shortage, saying pharmacy is all in this together.

The Rural Pharmacy Network urged all parties to consider rural and regional pharmacy when negotiating the Seventh Community Pharmacy Agreement. A new pilot program will aim to monitor the effects of influenza vaccines administered by pharmacists this flu season – and could potentially roll out to a coronavirus vaccine. And we discovered how many casualties were caused by this year’s smoke pollution.

We brought news from the APP Online conference, including from social researcher Mark McCrindle, who told us how consumers and pharmacy are changing and adapting; Gary West, who talked about conflict in pharmacy and how it’s been exacerbated by COVID-19; and former Australian of the Year Rosie Batty, who warned that domestic violence is also likely to rise, and how pharmacy can help victims.

And we’d like to hear how you’re being affected in-store: tell us in our poll here. Again, thank you to all the hard-working pharmacists and pharmacy assistants out there: in the words of Guild NSW president David Heffernan earlier this week, “Fundamentally, the public are looking to pharmacy to stand up in this crisis, and we’re doing so.”

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