Publication Date 01/07/2014         Volume. 6 No. 6   
Information to Pharmacists


From the desk of the editor

Welcome to the July 2014 homepage edition of i2P (Information to Pharmacists) E-Magazine.
At the commencement of 2014 i2P focused on the need for the entire profession of pharmacy and its associated industry supports to undergo a renewal and regeneration.
We are now half-way through this year and it is quite apparent that pharmacy leaders do not yet have a cohesive and clear sense of direction.
Maybe the new initiative by Woolworths to deliver clinical service through young pharmacists and nurses may sharpen their focus.
If not, community pharmacy can look forward to losing a substantial and profitable market share of the clinical services market.
Who would you blame when that happens?
But I have to admit there is some effort, even though the results are but meagre.
In this edition of i2P we focus on the need for research about community pharmacy, the lack of activity from practicing pharmacists and when some research is delivered, a disconnect appears in its interpretation and implementation.

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Friends of Science in Medicine

Neil Johnston

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Neil Johnston is a pharmacist who trained as a management consultant. He was the first consultant to service the pharmacy profession and commenced practice as a full time consultant in 1972, specialising in community pharmacy management, pharmacy systems, preventive medicine and the marketing of professional services. He has owned, or part-owned a total of six pharmacies during his career, and for a decade spent time both as a clinical pharmacist and Chief Pharmacist in the public hospital system. He has been editor of i2P since 2000.

A powerful group (The Friends of Science in Medicine (FSM)) comprised of medical academics and interested professionals has sprung into existence under the guidance of CEO Loretta Marron  (Australian Skeptic of the Year 2011), Professor Alastair MacLennan, Emeritus Professor John Dwyer, Professor Rob Morrison and Professor Marcello Costa and a cast of 400 Australian and international names.
Their full title, academic establishment and contact details are included in the press release that follows, along with a link containing the full list of academics involved.
The aim of this group is to directly challenge those universities that provide education and degrees to support some health disciplines, not deemed to be evidence-based.
This is in effect, a full-frontal confrontation to the universities that appear on the "naughty list (and there are quite a number).
It will also be confrontational to government and the agencies involved with regulating and monitoring the various health disciplines.

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Obviously as the "Friends of Science in Medicine" mobilise and begin to target and shoot down those activities on the "hit list", there will be an opposite reaction as the "targets" also mobilise to protect themselves.
The health disciplines left standing at the end of this attrition will obviously seek to have scarce government funds directed towards their own academic activities and funding that subsidises patient care directed into their specific patient rebates.
Even private health funds will no longer be able to direct their marketing into naturopathy, chiropractic, homeopathy etc if they do not exist any more, even though consumers show a strong preference towards these services, mostly as refugees from the orthodox medical system.
Many health fund members are also in the younger age group because the alternate health systems appeal to them. Disruption of this younger member base has the potential to increase private insurance premiums and make it unaffordable to all but the wealthy.
A budget conscious cash-strapped federal government may be inclined to let go some of these health disciplines based on the need to balance a budget before the next elections, citing the evidence of the FSM.

i2P has the belief that evidence-based medicine is a sound objective for all the health sciences.
How that evidence has been derived is another "can of worms" and there are many holes in the medical system of the conduct of clinical trials and the publishing of the findings, where the heavy hand of Big Pharma is in the background, buying influence at all levels, including universities (the "not-so-naughty" universities are included here as well).
Therefore i2P suggests that in the clean up of the "naughty universities" that the "Friends of Science in Medicine" pay equal attention to the orthodox health disciplines - and that may mean extending the "naughty list" to embrace all universities to guarantee equality of approach.
Otherwise credibility may be prejudiced.
Health service consumers will also need to be strongly represented, for they are the group that is ultimately affected, and their preferences need to be recorded and taken to account,

What the "Friends of Science in Medicine" is trying to achieve is quite impressive and has the potential to clean up a lot of the "wrongs" in health generally. As for any organisation there is the potential for some of its members to hijack the primary agenda and steer it down different pathways.
Funding for this new group will need to be adequate and at the same time remain pristine, because it represents considerable power that needs to be harnessed democratically.
It will be a magnet for every single "power broker" in the health industry.

Loretta Marron

Quack Treatments Duck for Cover
24 January 2012

Some alternative medical treatments, long contested as "quackery" by orthodox medicine, are coming under heavy fire.

Homeopathy may soon be dropped from German and UK medical insurance providers as a cost-saving measure, reports Deutsche Welle, Germany’s International Broadcaster *.

The broadcaster also states that, starting this year, it will no longer be possible to receive a degree from a publicly-funded British university in areas of "alternative medicine," including homeopathy, naturopathy and reflexology.

It is all welcome news to the Friends of Science in Medicine (FSM), an Australian organisation formed in December of 2011, to argue against the inclusion of pseudoscience courses in Australian universities and for their removal from Australian health benefits schedules.

"Friends of Science in Medicine wants to reverse the trend which sees government-funded tertiary institutions offering courses in the health care sciences that are not underpinned by convincing scientific evidence," said Professor John Dwyer AO,  Emeritus Professor of Medicine at the University of New South Wales.

Nineteen of Australia’s thirty-nine Universities currently offer degrees and courses in alternative health care,  identified as courses that are not evidence-based or based upon demonstrably false assumptions. They include Homeopathy, Iridology, Reflexology, Kinesiology, Healing touch therapy, Aromatherapy and 'Energy Medicine'.

Since its formation in December 2011, FSM has attracted close to 400 individual members from Australia and overseas. Concerned academics from two thirds of Australia’s universities have joined it, as have influential international health and medical organisations.

"Courses in alternative medicine are dishonest, they teach things that aren't true, and things that are dangerous to patients in some cases" said David Colquhoun FRS, Professor of Pharmacology at University College London, who has led demands to close the UK programs.

FSM has written to all Australian universities asking them to endorse the principles that science and health courses offered by universities should be evidence-based and conducted according to accepted scientific methodology.

"Our main goal is to have all universities acknowledge this controversy and review their health science teaching to ensure that their courses use scientific principles based on experimental evidence," said Professor Alastair MacLennan, Professor of Obstetrics & Gynaecology at The University of Adelaide.

FSM is also arguing that non evidence-based alternative practices should be ineligible for rebates from Australian medical insurance providers. It wants the government to stop funding non evidence-based courses in universities and providing other endorsements of pseudoscience.

"As one example, the federal government’s establishment of a national registration system for chiropractors, despite there bei ng no definition of an acceptable range of their services, together with permitting them to call themselves "Doctors", have enhanced chiropractors’ credibility," said Professor Marcello Costa, Professor of Neurophysiology at the Flinders University.

Name             Prof Alastair MacLennan; Professor and Head of the Discipline of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, UofA
Name             Emeritus Prof John Dwyer AO; Founder of the Australian Healthcare Reform Alliance, clinical advisor to and member of the NSW inter-agency committee for the protection of the public from health care fraud, UNSW
Name             Prof Marcello Costa FAA; Professor of Neurophysiology, Flinders University
Name             Loretta Marron, CEO FSM .
Contact through email

* List of supporters

* Invitation to join FSM

* Global media releases

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Submitted by Andrew on Tue, 17/07/2012 - 13:33.

During the last two years I was having a problem with a severe pain in my stomach. I visited numerous GPs, surgeons, gastroenterologists with absolutely no help. The only people who actually helped me are naturopaths, including Australian, Chinese and Indian. Thus, friends of the only medicine are representing no science but rather is a bunch of guys who want to get rid of alternative medicine so that doctors would have no competition.
The modern doctors do not treat patients. How is it possible to do this having 10 min for a visit to GP?. Moreover, the modern so called “scientific’ medicine is about money only. Doctors are bribed by pharmaceutical companies to prescribe certain drugs which in many instances are harmful for the body and give no relief whatsoever. Doctors charge you for visits lots of money without caring about resolving of a problem.
Even with a small competition form alternate medicine the so called scientific one behaves horribly, what would happen if there is not competition. Imagine there are only Coles shops around Australia…Luckily we have markets, grocery shops, Safeway and many other options.
Natural medicine was grown for centuries and treated people. In fact, it is the modern medicine which is not scientific as it disregards all good stuff which was inherited by medical practitioners during many generations.
Every medicine has its limitations. Some problems like severe surgical must be treated by doctors, many others are well treated by natural medicine and from the preventative point of view this medicine is MUCH better than chemicals ruining the body. Naturopaths can always find a cause of pain, whereas GPs in lots of instances are giving just panadol or even antidepressant without caring of the actual cause and consequences of destroying the body.
Shame to so called scientific medicine and its current state here in Australia. natural medicine and modern chemical medicine must co-exist but not punch each other, although mainly the second is always punching the first, to make us healthy. In this case the modern chemical medicine doe snot care about us and about our health, it cares about itself.

Submitted by David Weedon on Thu, 10/05/2012 - 07:47.

Dear FOSIM, keep doing what you are doing, it will help drive more and more people to Natural Therapies.

FOSIM = FE (Flat Eathers)

Submitted by Good Reference on Tue, 17/04/2012 - 15:50.

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that scholars should have freedom to teach or communicate ideas or facts without being targeted for repression, job loss, or imprisonment.For more details about the academic word just check this

site and enjoy.

Good Reference

Submitted by Dr J Cowley on Mon, 06/02/2012 - 12:36.

Good article Neil-members of this group need to start to think what they have signed up to. I don't have strong views on evidence based medicine or alternative medicine. But I do find the recent attempt by these medical academics to influence Universities re alternative medicine degrees quite astounding. It confronts the very basics of freedom of knowledge. And it makes these signatories look like a totalitarian outfit that wants to stop certain knowledge and disciplines of knowledge. They claim they are protecting consumers, because consumers want the right to choose. I have spent 30 years listening to consumers and seeing the changes-and the big reason they go to alternative medicine is they don't trust the medical theorists.
There is a vast amount of criticism of scientific medical research ranging from the statistical analyses, the commercial backing, the "club" that approves Government funded research, fraud in research etc etc. I look at many medical papers and am amazed at the range of variables in human behaviour and history they just don't even take into account as perhaps impacting their results. They don't even ask about some factors that are critical in some studies. The studies wouldn’t get through at the basic level if they were commercial research. And yet the results go into the pot pourri of EBM.
Look at the Internet-a cursory search shows that EBM has major problems.
Its time they got their own houses in order before they pick on other disciplines. The arrogance of saying that the world is only the way they see it is a total affront to what universities stand for.

Submitted by Susan Kirk on Wed, 01/02/2012 - 15:22.

Great article Neil. Your references to the elitist nature of this lobby group are insightful. Your readers may want to support other members of the public who seek to not have their liberties to choose healthcare and education squashed by visiting and signing the petition along with 1,500 other consumers.

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