The week in review

PBS compliance, pharmacy COVID-19 vaccination and a multimillion-dollar API takeover bid dominated headlines this week…

Photo: Andrew Topp/LinkedIn.

Governments this week have flagged ramping up pharmacist involvement in the COVID-19 vaccination rollout, with Lieutenant General John Frewen admitting, “up until now it’s been about managing available supply and not wanting to spread it too thin”.

“But now as we get additional vaccines available we’re absolutely looking at bringing on pharmacists,” he said.

All pharmacies across NSW were given the green light to provide the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to people aged 40 and over from Monday as Sydney faced a mounting outbreak crisis. Capital Chemist Braidwood was the first NSW pharmacy to start doing so from Thursday (see image, right).

And we heard that Sydney pharmacies were being visited by multiple COVID cases, which put pressure on their businesses and teams, and this continued well into the week.

Two more deaths related to the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine were reported – one of these was the first in Australia from a rare bleeding disorder called immune thrombocytopenia, the development of which was “likely linked” to the vaccine, experts said.

More work is needed to improve immunisation reporting practices by pharmacists, a first-ever report concluded.

And the TGA issued important advice to health professionals on how they can, and cannot, communicate with patients about their COVID-19 vaccination services.

The Pharmacy Guild said it was “monitoring” Wesfarmers’ unexpected $687 million takeover bid for Australian Pharmaceutical Industries (API) for “possible implications”.

Wesfarmers, which numbers Bunnings, K Mart, Target and Officeworks among its many companies, announced the bid first thing on Monday.

In other business news, TerryWhite Chemmart (TWC) has announced that its CEO Duncan Phillips will depart the company in October this year.

And we extend our congratulations to Josh Lee from Armidale (image, left) for winning this year’s Most Outstanding Community Pharmacist award from the Australian Patients Association.

Finally, Guild Executive Director Suzanne Greenwood alleged this week that pharmacists are being penalised for administrative errors that were often due to prescribers unfamiliar with their PBS obligations.

“Recent PBS compliance activities by the Department have focused on unintentional administrative anomalies which is traumatic to the pharmacist and staff involved and can affect patient care,” she said.

AJP sought a response from the Department of Health, which reassured pharmacists of its commitment to working with the profession following the complaints about its compliance crackdown.

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