NPS News : Order of Australia honours for NPS MedicineWise CEO Dr Lynn Weekes

Reference :

Jun.12 , 2013

The board and staff of NPS MedicineWise congratulate our CEO Dr Lynn Weekes on receiving an award in the 2013 Queen’s Birthday honours.

Appointed a Member of the Order of Australia, Dr Weekes has been recognised for significant service to Australian community health through the promotion of quality use of medicines.

She was appointed CEO of what was then known as the National Prescribing Service on its establishment in 1998; an organisation with an initial focus on activities that improved the quality of prescribing by general practitioners.

Chair of NPS MedicineWise Dr Janette Randall says that over the past 15 years NPS MedicineWise has grown into a large and very successful organisation under Dr Weekes’ leadership.

“Our scope of work has increased to include a range of programs and services that improve the way medicines and medical tests are used in Australia, and the organisation has shifted from being a health professional focused organisation to one that puts consumer and public needs at the fore,” says Dr Randall.

“The work of NPS MedicineWise is comprehensive and provides enormous benefits to the Australian community and Lynn’s leadership and vision have been critical to this growth. She is a passionate advocate for quality use of medicines, and always keeps the consumer at the centre of decision making.

“Lynn is modest about her own contributions and is driven by a deep and unwavering commitment to make the lives of Australian consumers better through improved cost effectiveness and more appropriate and safe use of medicines and tests. There is no doubt that her efforts have improved the lives of many, and made our health system safer and more effective.”

Current programs underway by NPS MedicineWise include a five-year campaign to fight antibiotic resistance as well as educational programs on best practice in oral anticoagulants and preventive activities in general practice.

NPS News : Pharmacists key to promoting safe use of oral anticoagulants

Reference :


Jun, 20  2013

With increased public awareness about newer oral anticoagulants, and large numbers of people still taking warfarin, NPS MedicineWise has launched a new educational activity for pharmacists to help guide their conversations with patients.

The latest Pharmacy Practice Review Oral anticoagulants: Promoting safe use is now available online.

NPS MedicineWise clinical adviser Dr Philippa Binns says the Pharmacy Practice Review helps provide clarity around the newer oral anticoagulants, putting them into context with warfarin.

“People who take anticoagulants often rely on their pharmacist to help them take the medicine correctly, so this is an interactive and useful way to keep up to-date with the latest evidence,” says Dr Binns.

The new Pharmacy Practice Review provides access to resources to help guide patient counselling, including:

  • Medicinewise tips for pharmacists to share with patients
  • A checklist to guide ongoing counselling
  • The new NPS MedicineWise Warfarin Dose Tracker (to help patients keep track of their dose, INR results and record any changes)
  • A Living well with warfarin patient fact sheet

As part of the Pharmacy Practice Review, pharmacists create individualised patient management plans to guide ongoing counselling for people using anticoagulants.

The review provides immediate individual results compared to best practice and aggregate results for peer comparison. An expert commentary on the results helps pharmacists to implement best practice.

After completing the activity pharmacists will be able to:

  • explain the purpose of and differences between the oral anticoagulants
  • outline the potential adverse effects of oral anticoagulants (including the newer agents)
  • assess for adverse effects and identify who needs referral, and
  • discuss the need for individualised clinical monitoring with patients and explain how often monitoring is required.

With the CPD year ending on 30 September 2013 pharmacists can earn up to 40% of their CPD requirements. Completion of the Pharmacy Practice Review earns 8 hours of Group 2 CPD (or 16 CPD credits) and participation is free at

Other available topics for Pharmacy Practice Reviews include CVD risk and type 2 diabetes.

[WHO]Meningococcal disease: 2013 epidemic season in the African Meningitis Belt

Reference :

Jun, 6  2013 –

  From 1 January to 12 May 2013 (epidemiologic week 19), 9 249 suspected cases of meningitis, including 857 deaths,  with a case fatality ratio of 9.3 percent, have been reported from 18 of the 19 African countries under enhanced  surveillance1 for meningitis. The number of cases reported so far are the lowest recorded during the epidemic season in the last ten years2.

Outbreaks of the meningococcal disease have been confirmed in Guinea and South Sudan, where 404 suspected cases3 (38 deaths) and 196 suspected cases (13 deaths) have respectively been notified.

In Guinea a small outbreak at the sub-district level was reported in Siguiri district, predominantly due to Neisseria meningitidis serogroup W135 (Nm W135). Upon request from the Ministry of Health of Guinea, the International Coordinating Group (ICG)4 on Vaccine Provision for Epidemic Meningitis Control released 63 075 doses of ACW polysaccharide vaccines. A reactive vaccination campaign targeting the affected population was conducted by the Ministry of Health from 2-7 May 2013.

In South Sudan an outbreak of Neisseria meningitidis serogroup A (Nm A) was confirmed in Malakal county, in the Upper Nile state.  The ICG  released 198 770 doses of Meningococcal A conjugate vaccine to implement a reactive vaccination campaign from 15-24 May 2013, which was led by the Ministry of Health of South Sudan with the support of WHO and partners. 

Additionally, outbreaks of  meningitis  were reported in Benin (1 district),  Burkina Faso (1 district), and Nigeria (3 districts). These outbreaks were of short duration and the predominance of the Nm bacteria was not confirmed. The ministries of health of affected areas implemented a series of preventive and control measures which include reinforcement of surveillance, case management and sensitization of the population.

The decrease in the number of cases of meningitis reported during the period under review is thought to be due to the progressive introduction of the newly developed Meningococcal A conjugate vaccine in countries of the African Meningitis Belt since 20105. The introduction of this first meningococcal vaccine available for preventive purposes in Africa has enabled the immunization of over 100 million people from 10 countries6  in the Meningitis Belt in the past three years (2010-2012). The reduced case load and epidemic activity observed this year, adds to the evidence on the impact of the introduction of this vaccine, which is expected to eliminate epidemics of Nm A, which is the predominant cause of the disease in Africa.   Given that large-scale epidemics in the African Meningitis Belt appear to occur in waves of 4 to 10 years, close surveillance for meningitis remains essential. 

Meningitis outbreaks are detected as part of the enhanced meningitis surveillance system introduced in 2002, whereby participating countries collect and send weekly, district level data to the WHO African Regional Office Inter-Country support team of Ouagadougou, which compiles and disseminates this data through a weekly regional bulletin. This allows for timely detection of outbreaks at district level, as well as monitoring of the situation at a regional level, enabling the identification of cross border, multi-country epidemics and a coordinated response.

WHO continues to monitor the epidemiological situation closely, in collaboration with partners and ministries of health in the affected countries.

1 The countries with enhanced surveillance for meningococcal disease include Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, the Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, South Sudan, Sudan and Togo. For 2013, no reports were available for Ethiopia. For Central African Republic reports were available up to epidemiologic weeks 10 and for Ghana and Guinea up to epidemiologic week 18.

2 WHO Weekly Epidemiological Record, 22 March 2013

3 Data up to epidemiologic week 18.

4 The ICG is a partnership between WHO, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF ) which manages an emergency vaccine stockpile, established with the support of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI).

5 The new vaccine MenAfriVac® is manufactured by Serum Institute of India Ltd. and was developed for the meningitis belt through the Meningitis Vaccine Project, a partnership between WHO and PATH, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

6 Burkina Faso (2010), Mali (2010–2011), Niger (2010–2011), Cameroon (2011–2012), Chad (2011–2012), Nigeria (2011- ), Ghana (2012), Benin (2012), Senegal (2012), Sudan (2012– ). Campaigns’ beginning and end years are indicated in parentheses; a single date indicates that the campaign was conducted during 1 year, an open date indicates the campaigns have not yet ended. Guinea and South Sudan preventive campaigns are planned for 2014.


The Amendment to Act Governing Food Sanitation Imposes Comprehensively Stricter Penalties on Non-Compliant Businesses

Reference :

Jun , 16 2013
“The Draft Amendment to Act Governing Food Sanitation” passed the third reading in the Legislative Yuan on May 31, 2013. The legislature, targeting at the serious food sanitation and safety incidents that happened over the years, reviewed the related existing food sanitation regulations and the implementation problems encountered.

In view of the series of the outbreaks of recent food safety incidents, including starch containing maleic anhydride, soy sauce containing excessive 3-MCPD (3-monochloro-1,2-propanediol), and the use of expired material, such as soy protein isolate and locust bean gum, it appears that the businesses are not self-disciplined on the management of food source control and that the existing regulations are not an effective deterrent in preventing such incidents. To stop the businesses from repeatedly committing illegal conducts, the said amendment increases the penalties for various types of violations.

According to Article 44 under the said amendment, the fines for violations of regulations such as food or food additives containing toxics or substances that are harmful to human health, containing pesticide residues or veterinary drug residues that exceed the maximum limits and being used after their expiry date, increased from NT$60,000~NT$6,000,000 to NT$60,000~NT$15,000,000. If the illegal businesses profit more than the statutory maximum amount of fines, and the circumstances are considered severe, the businesses may be fined within the scope of their profit.

For those who violate food sanitation and safety standards, food additive limit standards, product labeling standards, etc., the fines are raised from NT$30,000~NT$150,000 to NT$30,000~NT$3,000,000. In severe circumstances, violators may be ordered to terminate business or suspend business. This penalty is not limited to those who have violated the said standards within one year (Article 47 and Article 48 under the said amendment)

Under the consideration that the consumers’ behaviors, health, and rights are seriously affected by their reliance on the products claiming medical efficacy, the amendment also ens the fines, from NT$200,000~NT$1,000,000 to NT$ 600,000~NT$5,000,000, for such violations of the regulation as foods labeled, promoted or advertised as having medical efficacy. In addition to the fines, the businesses are required to broadcast advertisement correction notice in order to impose more liabilities on violating businesses and help the public to better understand what aspects of the information delivered by the previous advertisement are wrong (Article 45 and Article 46 under the said amendment).

Under the current act, food suppliers shall be subject to criminal penalties only upon the proof that their illegal conduct leads to the detriment of human health. However, according to Article 49 under the said amendment, persons shall be sentenced to imprisonment of no more than three years if they use impermissible additives, mix with fakes or counterfeit. If death results from the offense, the offender may be sentenced to up to life imprisonment (Article 49 under the said amendment).

The said amendment becomes effective immediately after the promulgation by the President. The amendment purposes to establish a sound food safety management system and to relieve the consumers anxiety toward food safety, by means of empowering and obliging the health authorities, extending the responsibilities of food businesses and increasing the fines and criminal penalties for violations.

0527 Project for Food Safety Event Regarding Starch Containing Maleic Anhydride

 Reference :

May , 30 2013

To resolve the food safety problem arising from illegal additive in starch, the maleic anhydride, added maliciously by manufacturers, the Minister of the Department of Health, Wen-Ta Chiu, invited experts in food management and technology, public health, as well as medicine on May 26 to discuss what countermeasures to take. He also invited directors of city/county public health bureaus to hold a video conference on May 27; with the resolutions of the meeting, the 0527 project for food safety was launched:
1. Public health bureaus nationwide have completed an overall investigation and found 1 wholesaler and 3 distributors of maleic anhydride, as well as 8 manufacturers and 16 retailers who manufactured or sold starch containing maleic anhydride. A total of 206 tons of products that violate the regulations have been recalled, taken off the selves, sealed and stored, which will be destroyed by public health bureaus as soon as possible within one week.
2. Public health bureaus nationwide will conduct an overall inspection on all manufacturers and distributors of starch in their respective jurisdictions to ensure that all products that violate the regulations have been recalled and there is no illegal product that has been newly manufactured.
3. From now on, all suppliers of starch raw materials must provide a safety certificate to those who sell products containing starch raw materials, including flat rice noodles, round meat dumplings, oden, tapioca balls, tofu puddings, rice cakes, taro and sweet potato dumplings, etc. Vendors must make this certificate noticeable in their shops for consumers to verify.
4. From June 1 onwards, public health bureaus nationwide will launch an overall inspection. Those who are found to fail to provide a certificate or who have provided a false certificate, in addition to being found that their raw materials violate the regulations, will receive heavier punishment.
5. The process of amending the Act Governing Food Sanitation will be sped up, and heavier penalties and responsibilities will be imposed on business operators.
6. Rewards for reporting major food safety events will increase, and all citizens are encouraged to participate, in order to stop food safety violations.
7. Cross-departmental cooperation:
(1) A collaboration is formed among the Ministry of Justice, the Environmental Protection Administration, the Council of Labor Affairs, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Consumer Protection Committee of the Executive Yuan to strengthen the management of the source of raw materials for chemical industry and the protection of consumers’ rights.
(2) Manufacturers who have been found by the Bureau of Foreign Trade to have products that violate the regulations and have been publically announced should attach a certificate of conformity issued by a government recognized laboratory before exporting their products.
(3) The Department of Health and the Ministry of Economic Affairs will jointly hold a conference for starch-related industry, government and academia to reinforce assistance to and education of manufacturers.
It is hoped that through the measures such as overall inspection, amendments to laws and regulations, supervision of manufacturers and assistance to them, as well as increase of rewards for reporting major food safety events, consumers’ food safety can be improved and similar events can be prevented from happening again.




FDA Resumes Sample-Check of Imported Condoms at Borders Starting June 1

Reference :

Date:2013-06-07     :

To implement inspection of drugs at the borders, the Department of Health promulgated the “Regulations Governing the Sample-Check of Imported Drugs at the Borders” on May 13, 2013. Sample-check of products such as condoms originally listed as items subject to the inspection by the Bureau of Standards, Metrology and Inspection (BSMI) under the Ministry of Economic Affairs will be resumed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Department of Health starting June 1, 2013, in accordance with the above regulations, to protect public health and safety by preventing unsafe drugs from entering our country.
In 1999, in view of the rampant spread of venereal diseases such as AIDS due to open sex and of the paramount importance of condom quality to venereal-disease control, and in order to ensure public health, the Department of Health requested BSMI to classify condoms as a product subject to inspection and to sample-check them upon import, allowing them to enter the country only after they had passed quality checks. These measures aimed to strengthen control at the source and ensure product quality.
With the FDA resuming the task, sample-check of imported drugs at the borders has become unified, which not only strengthens the control of imported drugs at the borders but also betters the drug management mechanism, helping the control at the production source, inspection before market sales, and supervision after their availability on the market, to implement the inspection of drug safety, efficacy, and quality, and to enhance the safeguard of medication safety.


[PSS]Dengue Alert

Reference :

Jun ,17 2013


Dengue Alert

Dengue is a mosquito-borne disease caused by viruses. Infected person may present with high fever, headache, joint pain and rashes. In severe cases, the person may need hospitalization. 

National Environment Agency (NEA) updates the number of dengue cases in Singapore frequently.  As of 10May 2013, there are a total of 6396 dengue cases in this year alone.

[Click link to get most updated dengue number of cases]


Dengue is a mosquito-borne disease caused by any one of  four closely related dengue viruses (DENV-1,-2, -3, -4).  These four type of dengue viruses are circulating around the globe.  A person infected with dengue fever can be infected as many as four times because infection with any type of DENV provides immunity to that particular type of virus for life, but confers only partial and transient protection against subsequent infection by the other three.

Transmission of Dengue Virus

Dengue viruses are transmitted between people by mosquitoes (Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus).  Dengue does not spread from person to person.  In order for transmission to occur the mosquito must feed on a person during the first 5-days (after being infected by dengue virus) when large of amount of viruses are in the blood.

Potential breeding sites of Aedes mosquitoes include flower pot plates/trays, toilet bowls, hardened soil in plants and domestic containers.

Signs and symptoms

  • High fever
  • Severe headache
  • Severe pain behind the eyes
  • Joint pain
  • Muscle and bone pain
  • Rash
  • Mild bleeding (e.g nose and gums bleed, easy bruising)

Symptoms of dengue are usually self-limiting and will clear within two weeks with plenty of rest, drinking lots of fluids and also taking medication to reduce pain and fever. However, with more severe symptoms, patients may need hospitalization and also fluids and electrolyte replacement. 

What you can do to stop dengue? Let’s fight dengue together!

For dengue, prevention is the most important step because there is no vaccine available against it. Prevention of dengue means avoiding mosquito bites and also preventing the breeding of its vector, the Aedes mosquito. Prevention of dengue can be divided into  measures to prevent mosquito breeding/ feeding anduse of mosquito repellents.

Measures to prevent mosquito breeding/ feeding Before we can eliminate dengue, we must first learn to identify the potential breeding sites of Aedes Mosquito. Aedes mosquito likes to lay its eggs in stagnant water making areas around our home. Examples of some mosquito breeding sites in our homes are flower pots, flower vases, roof gutter, drain, collar of toilet bowl and air conditioner tray.

After learning about Aedes mosquitoes breeding sites, in order to curb dengue, there are many things we can do.

  1. We must always turn over or cover any water storage containers (empty barrels, unused flower pots, bamboo poles container) when not in use.
  2. Change vase or flower pots water on alternate days. Clean and scrub the plate thoroughly to remove any mosquito eggs. Wash roots of flowers in vase thoroughly as mosquito eggs can stick on them easily.
  3. Clear any drain blockages and fallen leaves that can collect water.
  4. Loosen soil from potted plants to prevent stagnant water from forming.
  5. Spray insecticides in dark corners like behind curtains, under sofas/ bed and also in roof gutters.
  6. Avoid going out during early morning before day break and late afternoon after dark because this is the time mosquitoes are most active.
  1. Make sure windows and door screens are secured properly and without holes.
  2. Use air conditioner when possible.
  3. Sleep under a mosquito bed net.
  4. Wear long-sleeved shirt and long pants.
  5. Be co-operative when there is any government body who wants to inspect your house or when they come for fogging.

Use of mosquito repellents

Using the right insect repellent is important for ensuring protection against Aedes mosquitoes. There are many types of insect repellents that are available in Singapore and they also come in many forms like patches, sprays, wipes, lotions, bands and also candles. The usual ingredients in mosquito repellents are DEET (N.N Diethyl-meta-toluamide), Icaridin/Picaridin, Ethyl Butylacetylamino-propionate and Citronella.

Points to note when selecting a mosquito repellent are:

  • Length of time you need protection and
  • Also the active ingredients and its percentage.

Centres for Disease Control (America) believe that DEET and Picaridin provide longer lasting protection than other repellents. The length of protection correlates with the concentration of the active ingredients meaning the more concentrated the active ingredient a product contains, the longer it provides protection from mosquitoes. However, actual protection varies widely and maybe affected by factors such as temperature, perspiration, water exposure and abrasive removal. DEET is the most common ingredient in repellent products but should not be used in infants less than 2 months old. DEET is the usual choice for adults and for small children; parents can also opt for a safer alternative like Citronella.

Precautions to take when using repellent:

  • Always follow the recommendations/ instructions on product labels.
  • Apply repellent when you are going to be outdoors. Reapply when necessary.
  • Use sufficient repellent to cover only exposed skin or clothings. Spread evenly to all exposed areas. Do not use repellents under clothing. If repellent is applied to clothings, wash treated clothings before wearing again.
  • Do not apply repellent to cuts, wounds or irritated skin. If skin rash or irritation occurs, discontinue use and wash the area quickly with water and soap. Consult a doctor if necessary.
  • Do not put repellent directly on your face. Put on palm first and then apply on face. Avoid eyes and mouth.
  • After returning indoors, wash skin thoroughly with water and soap.
  • Do not let children handle the product and help them to apply. Avoid applying on their palm to prevent accidental ingestion of the repellent.

References and for further updates on dengue, you may wish to access the following sites:

PSA Board Executive re-elected

Reference :

Jun,14  2013

The PSA Board executive of President Grant Kardachi and Vice-Presidents Dr Claire O’Reilly and Joe Demarte have been re-elected for another term.

Mr Kardachi, from South Australia, Dr O’Reilly from NSW and Joe Demarte from Victoria enter their third year on the executive.

The appointments were confirmed during the PSA national Board meeting held in Canberra this week.

Mr Kardachi said he was honoured to be re-elected and looked forward to leading PSA during a challenging period for the profession.

“We have already faced a tough year during which we encountered many serious challenges, and at times obstacles, to the growth of the profession,” Mr Kardachi said.

“As we enter the phase when we must negotiate the next Community Pharmacy Agreement, I expect that we will continue to faces challenges, but in those challenges will be opportunities.

“I also look forward to a new era of cooperation and collaboration between all the representative groups of the pharmacy profession so that we can work together for the good of the profession as a whole.

“Our future lies in working together and collectively facing the challenges that are coming in the changing pharmacy environment in which we operate.”

Mr Kardachi thanked his two Vice-Presidents for their work and support over the past year.

“Dr O’Reilly and Mr Demarte have been instrumental in ensuring PSA has continued to grow and meet the needs of its members,” he said.

‘In fact we are now at historically high membership numbers and while this gives us strength, it also gives us responsibilities and as an Executive we are focused on this and on meeting the business and professional needs of our members.”



PSA congratulates George Tambassis on Guild appointment

Reference :

Jun,12  2013

The National President of the PSA, Grant Kardachi, today congratulated Mr George Tambassis on his appointment as the Interim Council Nominee for the position of National President of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia which becomes vacant in October.

Mr Kardachi said Mr Tambassis, a Victorian pharmacist, was highly regarded and would bring to the position commitment and passion gleaned over his many years as a community pharmacist.

Mr Tambassis has been the President of the Guild’s Victorian Branch since 2011 and over the past 25 years has built up a business of pharmacy ownership in rural and suburban Victoria.

“I have met George on several occasions and we have had very good discussions about pharmacy and the future of the profession,” Mr Kardachi said.

“George has a great passion for community pharmacy as well as a pragmatic and realistic approach as to what we as a profession need to do to work towards securing a sustainable and viable future.

“As Victorian President of the Guild he has always been open to discussion, collaboration and a whole-of-profession approach and I look forward to working with him in his new role.”

Mr Kardachi said having a ‘handover’ period before the current President, Kos Sclavos, stepped down, would give Mr Tambassis an opportunity to tap into Mr Sclavos’s enormous wealth of knowledge and experience.

“And this, coupled with George’s own initiatives, ideas and enthusiasm will help put the profession in a strong position as we head into the negotiating phase of the next Community Pharmacy Agreement,” Mr Kardachi said.

“It is important that PSA is able to put forward its ideas, suggestions and concerns during this phase of the CPA process and I am confident that George will be receptive to our input for the good of the profession as a whole.”


 MEDIA CONTACT:              Peter Waterman         0487 922 176

Pharmacists honoured in Queen’s Birthday Honours List

Reference :

Jun,10  2013 

PSA Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, Gerard Stevens, has been further honoured by being made a Member (AM) in the General Division of the Order of Australia for significant service to the pharmaceutical industry and to community health.

Mr Stevens introduced the Webster system that reduces nursing home medication administration errors, allows collaboration with allied health professionals, reduces medication wastage and government costs, and encourages better use of pharmacists’ clinical and educative skills. 

He has been managing director of Webstercare Medication Management Systems since the 1980s and Chair of the Dean’s Community Pharmacy Reference Group, University of Sydney, since 2009.

He has also been technical adviser to the Department of Health and Ageing for several years.

Mr Stevens has also addressed compliance in Aboriginal communities and an example of the success of the Webster system Clamshell is compliance in the Tiwi Islands where medication collection alone has increased to more than 60 per cent.

Pharmacist Dr Lynn Weekes, Chief Executive Officer, NPS Medicinewise, since 1998 has also been made a Member (AM) in the General Division of the Order of Australia for significant service to community health through the promotion of quality use of medicines.

National President of the PSA, Grant Kardachi, congratulated Dr Weekes and Mr Stevens on their recognition in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

“Both Dr Weekes and Mr Stevens are most deserving of this award and both epitomise the high standards, dedication and commitment that is a feature of the profession in Australia,” Mr Kardachi said.

“They are both great examples of the very high standards that consistently make the profession one of the most trusted professions in Australia and their example is one which provides inspiration to all other pharmacists.”

 MEDIA CONTACT:               Peter Waterman       0487 922 176