It’s been a busy week in Canberra—for the pharmacy sector as well as for those interested in the private life of embattled Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce

We saw the sunset clause of the Pharmacy Location Rules abolished this week, meaning that the rules do not automatically expire at the end of the Sixth Community Pharmacy Agreement in June 2020. The relevant Bill also contains a raft of measures designed to reduce PBS expenditure and the Guild says it offers “much needed certainty and stability for Australia’s 5700 community pharmacy small businesses”.

The Senate also passed the controversial TGA amendment Bill, which would have seen pre-approvals for mainstream media advertising for therapeutic goods scrapped: instead, the safeguards will stay in place for two years, with a review expected to commence in 18 months. And legislation on data breaches has also been passed, with relevance to pharmacy.

An Australian-led trial showed new evidence to support pharmacist-led guidance for junior doctors, while over the Tasman, a quarter of pharmacies surveyed said they would support tobacco sales in pharmacy if it were the only channel available. E-cigarettes have been back in the news, with Australian Conservatives Senator Cory Bernardi spruiking claimed benefits of the devices in smoking cessation, though one study says they may make users more vulnerable to pneumonia.

TerryWhite Chemmart reported positive financial results, while Choosing Wisely advised that benzodiazepines should not be used to treat lower back pain.

This week we saw another step made towards real time monitoring of drugs of concern, as the ACT announced a commitment to the protocol to be rolled out by March 2019. But as reader D.Pharm pointed out, “What about NSW, QLD, WA & NT? Who knows”. Greg Hunt might: he’s writing to the states and territories to get them moving on the issue.

For the NSW Guild’s David Heffernan, the fight over low-dose codeine is not over: he’s vowing to continue to push for an acute pain exception under certain circumstances. Meanwhile, new data says codeine dependence is under-reported.

And the Victorian Pharmacy Authority will implement an audit program this year focusing on pharmacy business commercial arrangements, in particular undeclared and unlawful interests in pharmacy businesses.