The Therapeutic Goods Administration has approved the use of the Moderna Vaccine for individuals over the age of 12 and community pharmacies will administer the vaccine “as soon as supplies are available,” according to the PGA’s Trent Twomey.
“Increasingly we’re seeing evidence of younger people being affected by the Delta strain of Covid-19, so it is imperative that this age group is protected along with the rest of the community throughout Australia,” Twomey said.
He also noted that patients are more willing than ever to receive either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, as they are “flocking” to community pharmacies. Twomey believes that this highlights the important role that community pharmacists play in the vaccine rollout.
Associate Professor Chris Freeman, Pharmaceutical Society of Australia National President also said that some States and Territories within Australia will need to grant approval for pharmacists to administer the vaccine to patients under 18. However, Guild Victorian Branch President, Anthony Tassone believes that no changes will be required since the orders in the state are aligned to TGA approval.
Healthcare Sector is the New Target for Cyber Criminals
A report by The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner reveals that data breaches in the health sector have increased dramatically in the past 6 months. According to the Notifiable Data Breaches Report, about 20% of all notifiable data breaches occurred in the health sector, and 56% of those breaches are linked to malicious criminal activity.
Angelene Falk, OAIC and Privacy Commissioner, urges healthcare providers to ramp up security to fight against these increasing numbers. “Malicious actors target health service providers due to the valuable information they hold. Health information is sensitive in nature and needs to be treated carefully,” she said.
Falk also gave some recommendations on possible next steps for health service providers. “Handling this information appropriately underpins the trust in a provider-patient relationship. Health service providers can embed good privacy in their practice by understanding their privacy obligations, improving security, revising systems and processes for responding to breaches, and training staff on secure information handling practices.”
Pharmacies are Key to Reducing Stress on the Hospital System: Andrew Ngeow
Andrew Ngeow, Pharmacy Guild of Australia WA Branch President believes that funding more services through community pharmacies can activate the capacity of the pharmacy network, cutting patient demands on the hospitals.
“Potential solutions to the current challenges were identified in the WA Government’s Sustainable Health Review, which was released in April 2019. Removing the cost and patient demand pressures on the hospital system was a priority [then]. Seemingly, there is little motivation or incentive to address the ongoing cost blowouts or look outwards to primary healthcare for solutions.” he said.
Ngeow believes that it “makes absolute sense” to lean more on community pharmacies because it would improve patient health outcomes and drive down the cost of use of public hospital services.
He also added that there's an opportunity to implement the review’s recommendations and “take a practical, common-sense approach to keep people out of the hospital system by engaging the existing capacity of community pharmacy effectively and sustainably.”
Reduce Costs of Naloxone: PSA
The PSA’s Chris Freeman believes that current measures to increase access to naloxone are failing because the drug remains inaccessible to individuals with the highest risk of overdose.
During International Overdose Awareness Day, Freeman called for reforms to reduce the cost of the drug, so that pharmacists can supply subsidised doses without prescription.
“Naloxone is a life-saving medicine that can temporarily reverse opioid overdose, allowing enough time for an ambulance to arrive. Whilst it is now available over the counter across the country, the price of this medicine puts it out of reach for many, and a prescription is required in order to receive the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) subsidy.”
According to Freeman, the current process doesn’t align with the best interest of individuals who need it the most. “Whilst we welcome short-term trails to improve access in NSW, Western Australia, and South Australia, this does not go far enough. We need to improve access to this life-saving medicine through all pharmacies across all jurisdictions by making it the first pharmacist-initiated and supplied PBS item - in doing so, we can decrease the amount of deaths from overdose.”
Freeman also added that pharmacists are Australia’s most accessible healthcare workforce and there’s no better time to make naloxone more accessible and affordable.
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