The Health News Australia November 5 2017

  • Pharmacists say they have seen an increasing number of people trying to purchase codeine products, as the law change to restrict access draws closer. Codeine products will become prescription-only in February next year, in a hope to curb addictions to the drug.
    Estimates suggest up to 260,000 people – including 50,000 children – are suffering from genetic defects which affect the body’s ability to break down cholesterol.
  • Two new polls have exposed a vast gulf in opinion between experts and the public on the federal government’s controversial plan to drug test welfare recipients. The surveys show majority support from the public for the drug testing policy, even among Labor voters, but overwhelming opposition from the drug and alcohol sector.
  • Australia has recorded 221,853 flu infections so far in 2017, more than any other year.  A better vaccine could have reduced the rates, but not the high-dose Fluzone vaccine doctors were touting at the start of the week. Multiple flu viruses circulate each year and are broadly grouped into two types: A and B. Influenza B viruses have two main strains, while the influenza A viruses are more variable.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 5th of November 2017. Read by Tabetha Moreto.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-11-03/pharmacists-see-increased-demand-for-codeine-as-law-change-looms/9113008

Pharmacists say they have seen an increasing number of people trying to purchase codeine products, as the law change to restrict access draws closer. Codeine products will become prescription-only in February next year, in a hope to curb addictions to the drug. Pharmacist Matthew Soliman, who works in Naracoorte in regional South Australia, said he had seen a number of out-of-town people looking to purchase codeine products.
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Mister Soliman said many suppliers were decreasing stock in preparation for the laws to come in next year. He said while there had been some increased interest in people trying to purchase codeine, often the stock was not available in the first place. He added: “Any pharmacy caught with any sort of codeine products post-February one, has no choice but to throw it out as dead stock.” Under the new laws, products containing the drug will only be available with a script from a doctor. Mike Beckoff, the SA representative to the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine or ACRRM, said for rural areas, where there may not be a doctor available, nurse practitioners and remote nurses would have the ability to prescribe codeine. While the impacts of drugs like ice are well documented, the rising addiction to prescription painkillers is a deepening crisis in regional areas.
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Mister Soliman said he hoped this would lead to better conversations between doctor and patient about pain needs and whether codeine was the right drug. He stated that  the current system, many pharmacists would discuss a person’s codeine use if they suspect a problem, but such conservations were not always well-received.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/nov/02/experts-and-public-disagree-over-plan-to-drug-test-welfare-recipients-polls

Two new polls have exposed a vast gulf in opinion between experts and the public on the federal government’s controversial plan to drug test welfare recipients. The surveys show majority support from the public for the drug testing policy, even among Labor voters, but overwhelming opposition from the drug and alcohol sector. Harm Reduction Australia surveyed drug and alcohol workers and found they were largely opposed to the testing of welfare recipients. Just thirteen percent of the one thousand thirty eight respondents expressed support for the measure.

Twice as many drug workers supported testing politicians and their staff, but the vast majority of frontline drug workers did not believe in testing for any profession or subset of the population.
A Newspoll published by the Australian, however, showed significant voter support for drug testing. It showed seventy three percent of voters were supportive of the government’s policy. That support was shared across the major parties. Two in three Labor voters backed the drug testing trial, as did half of Greens voters. The government wants to trial drug testing on five thousand welfare recipients, who would be tested for cannabis, ice and other drugs.
A first failed test would cause the recipient to be placed on income management, which would quarantine eighty percent of their income on a basics card. If they failed a second test, a recipient would be referred for treatment. Disengaging from that treatment would see a loss of their social security.
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In August, more than nine hundred eighty health professionals signed a letter urging parliament to block the drug testing plan. Their letter said it would push vulnerable people further into the margins.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-11-02/high-dose-flu-vaccine-would-not-stop-horror-season/9112236

Australia has recorded two hundred twenty two thousand eight hundred fifty three flu infections so far in two thousand seventeen, more than any other year.  A better vaccine could have reduced the rates, but not the high-dose Fluzone vaccine doctors were touting at the start of the week. Multiple flu viruses circulate each year and are broadly grouped into two types: A and B.
Influenza B viruses have two main strains, while the influenza A viruses are more variable.

The influenza As you get each year are usually A/H three N two — the main player so far this season — or A/H one N one , which lingers on from its two thousand nine “swine flu” pandemic.
The formulation for a vaccine to immunise against all four flu viruses was decided back in September two thousand sixteen and the final product released seven months later. Commonly, each virus is amplified by injecting well-growing “seed” virus into vast numbers of fertilised or embryonated hens’ eggs.
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The Fluzone high-dose vaccines can reduce disease and death in the elderly but won’t halt spread of an efficiently transmitting flu virus. Stopping flu viruses requires vaccines that are effective in those who most efficiently carry and spread the virus — pre-school and school-aged children, in whom rates are highest. It also needs higher uptake by the community. The promise of a “universal flu vaccine” has been dangled since at least nineteen eighty. We need focused research to commercialise and license vaccines that effectively protect us from seasonal influenza.

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