The week in review

The ongoing COVID vaccination saga, regulatory issues and good news about e-cigarette supply in pharmacies dominated the agenda over the the last week

The Federal government announced it was establishing a COVID-19 vaccine medical indemnity scheme to support claims made against pharmacists, GPs and nurses administering COVID vaccines.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Greg Hunt declared “we’ll be increasing community pharmacy rollout.

“The community pharmacies are specifically designed to provide access in areas where there’s little to no GP support, in remote, rural, and regional areas”.

And it was announced that another batch of Queensland pharmacies were ready to begin vaccinating.

Pharmacists were warned this week that they were being targeted by people pretending to be doctors to obtain S8 drugs for an “emergency” on the promise of later supplying the prescription. 

Many of the reported incidence related to fentanyl patches, with NSW Health stating that: “Fentanyl misuse is an emerging problem. The risk of drug dependence on fentanyl patches is high and misuse of fentanyl patches carries several risks of overdose.” 

Meanwhile, AHPRA highlighted cases where health practitioners had been reprimanded, suspended or banned over drug misappropriation, inappropriate prescribing, theft and forged scripts.

One of the highlighted cases also related to fentanyl misappropriation.

Regulators reported on issues around existing procedures in some pharmacies relating to dose ad ministration aids, RUM bins and Schedule 8 storage.  

The TGA clarified an ongoing concern of many community pharmacists this week, announcing that they were allowed to advertise the availability of nicotine e-cigarettes or liquid nicotine to patients with a prescription.

While it was “generally, it is not lawful to advertise prescription medicines…. the TGA has granted a legal permission which allows pharmacies and a pharmacy marketing groups to advertise (i.e. promote), through certain media, where to obtain nicotine e-cigarettes and liquid nicotine with a prescription”.

“This means that patients who have been prescribed liquid nicotine for smoking cessation will know where they can fill prescriptions.”

AHPRA and the National Boards published a position statement outlining their expectations of “respectful, professional behaviour” from all health practitioners including pharmacists.

This includes maintaining appropriate professional boundaries, with these expectations set out in National Board codes of conduct or their equivalent.

“There is no place for sexism, sexual harassment or gendered violence in healthcare. Ahpra and National Boards explicitly condemn this behaviour by registered health practitioners,” they said.


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