Australia: Health Alert : 27 February 2012

Last Updated: 28 February 2012
Article by Andrew Forbes


Australia. Administrative Appeals Tribunal

Aspen Pharmacare Australia Pty Limited and Minister for Health and Ageing [2012] AATA 93 (16 February 2012)

Aspen Pharmacare Australia Proprietary Limited (applicant) sought a stay in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal of Australia (Tribunal) of a decision by the Minister of the Department of Health and Ageing to remove two drugs containing dextropropoxyphene (DPP) from the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods. The drugs, Di-Gesic and Doloxene, are used for pain relief, but the Minister has serious concerns regarding their safety and effectiveness.

The Tribunal concluded that there was a significant case relating to the efficacy and safety, in both prescribed doses and overdoses, of the products. The applicant argued that the risks are less than the Minister claimed. The Tribunal agreed that the Minister has a strong case, but that it is not so strong as to lead him to "conclude that no serious case can be presented in answer to it". The Tribunal balanced the interests of the patients who use the drug, and the applicant in providing the drug, with the interest of the Minister in ensuring the safety of Australian citizens and decided that the balance falls in favour of granting a stay.

The Tribunal ordered a stay, for a period of less than four months, providing that the applicant makes an undertaking agreeing to certain conditions. These include preparing product information with significant warnings that are included in every packet and are prominently displayed, including appropriate patient information within each pack and sending letters to doctors and others who prescribe or use the drugs.

The Tribunal also made a series of orders setting out a timetable for the proceedings.

South Australia. Health Practitioners Tribunal

Chiropractic and Osteopathy Board of Australia v Forte [2012] SAHPT 2 (20 February 2012)

The Chiropractic and Osteopathy Board of South Australia (Board) laid a disciplinary complaint in the Health Practitioners Tribunal of South Australia (Tribunal) against a chiropractor, Dr Mario Forte (respondent). The respondent delayed in calling an ambulance for nine minutes when a patient in his room lost consciousness and was convulsing.

The respondent argued that the Tribunal did not have jurisdiction because the Board had already decided that there were no grounds upon which the complaint might properly be laid. The Board argued that the Registrar had not already laid a complaint and the duties of the Registrar require it to consider whether a complaint should be laid in light of all the circumstances available, including the findings from a recent coronial inquest into the patient's death. The Tribunal found that it had jurisdiction to hear the complaint.

The Tribunal did not accept the view that this was a momentary error of judgment, as the respondent could have phoned an ambulance at any time during the nine minutes.

The Tribunal found that the respondent's conduct was unprofessional, incompetent and negligent. It found that he deprived the patient of timely resuscitative care, but did not find that earlier care would have saved the patient's life.

The Tribunal suspended the respondent's registration for one year, placed a condition on his registration that he no longer practice alone and directed that he undergo education regarding emergency and crisis response.



Health Insurance (General Medical Services Table) Amendment Regulation 2012 (No. 1) - F2012L00398 " SLI 2012 No. 16 as made

National Health (Highly specialised drugs program for hospitals) Special Arrangement Amendment Instrument 2012 (No. 1) (No. PB 5 of 2012) - F2012L00380 " PB 5 of 2012 as made

National Health (Efficient Funding of Chemotherapy) Special Arrangement Amendment Instrument 2012 (No. 1) (No. PB 4 of 2012) - F2012L00379 " PB 4 of 2012 as made

National Health (Chemotherapy Pharmaceuticals Access Program) Special Arrangement Amendment Instrument 2012 (No. 1) (No. PB 3 of 2012) - F2012L00378 " PB 3 of 2012 as made

National Health (Listed drugs on F1 or F2) Amendment Determination 2012 (No. 1) (No. PB 10 of 2012) - F2012L00346 " PB 10 of 2012 as made

National Health Act 1953 - Amendment Determination under section 84AH (2012) (No. 1) (No. PB 11 of 2012) - F2012L00344 " PB 11 of 2012 as made

New South Wales

22 February 2012 - Coroners Amendment Bill 2012 - Legislative Assembly - Introduced and read a first time.

Northern Territory

22 February 2012 - Hospital Networks Governing Councils Bill 2012 - Legislative Assembly - Introduced and read a first time.

South Australia

15 February 2012 - Assisted Reproductive Treatment (Equality of Access) Amendment Bill 2012 - Private Member's Bill - Legislative Council second reading speech.


Australia. Department of Health & Ageing

Media releases

Maternity reform – your feedback wanted An independent survey is currently open to new mums, pregnant women and women considering pregnancy seeking feedback on reforms to maternity services.

Fairer Private Health Insurance Incentives Tiers

Revised Recommendations for Clinical Care Guidelines on the Management of Otitis Media (Middle Ear Infection) in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Populations 2010

Australia. Private Health Insurance Administration Council

Statistical Trends Release for December 2011

Australia. National Health & Medical Research Council

22 February 2012 - Revised Policy on Dissemination of Research Findings

24 February 2012 - NHMRC Research Tracker – 24 February 2012 edition

Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency & the Boards

24 February 2012 - Call for Nominations or Expressions of Interest for Board Members - Victoria. | Read Article

21 February 2012 - Registration applications now open for the four 2012 Professions | Read Article

20 February 2012 - The Chiropractic Board of Australia releases its latest communiqué. | Read Article

Australian Institute of Health & Welfare

15 February 2012 - Incidence of insulin-treated diabetes in Australia 2000–2009 (media release)

Australia. Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme

A 48-hour extension has been granted to the deadline for submissions to the Review of Anticoagulation Therapies in Atrial Fibrillation. Submissions are now due to be received by the Department of Health and Ageing by 2pm Australian Eastern Daylight Time, Thursday 23 February 2012.

As announced by the Minister for Health on 21 February 2012, the Government has agreed to increase the price of 17 medicines currently listed on the PBS, as recommended by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Pricing Authority at its December 2011 meeting. A full list of the medicines granted a price increase from 1 April 2012 is available here.

Australia. Office of the Australian Information Commissioner

22 February Consultation: Revocation of Biometrics Institute Privacy Code

Australia. Therapeutic Goods Administration

22 February 2012 - Australian Public Assessment Reports for prescription medicines (AusPARs) - Added milnacipran, rasagiline, fibrin adhesive/sealant, ciclesonide, lanthanum carbonate, cabazitaxel, oestradiol/norethisterone acetate and octreotide.

21 February 2012 - Orphan drugs - Added adalimumab, anakinra, catridecacog, epoprostenol, leuprorelin acetate, mometasone furoate, pasireotide, pertuzumab, pralatrexate, raltegravir, ridaforolimu, rituximab and tafamidis meglumine to the list of designated orphan drugs

20 February 2012 - Dr Brian Richards - The Acting National Manager for the Therapeutic Goods Administration is Dr Brian Richards.

Australian Capital Territory. Department of Health

Media releases

New South Wales. Ministry of Health

Media releases

Northern Territory. Department of Health

Media release

South Australia. Department of Health

Media releases

Tasmania. Department of Health & Human Services

Media releases

Tasmanians will be better equipped to protect their health, with the launch of a new early warning system against the ... more

Know your loved ones' organ and tissue donation wishes - Would you know what to say if asked: "Did they want to be an organ and tissue donor?" DonateLife Week – ... more

Governing Council Members for Tasmanian Health Organisations

Victoria. Department of Health

21 February 2012 - Generous Victorians saving the lives of transplant recipients

Western Australia. Department of Health

Media releases

United Kingdom. Department of Health

23 February 2012 - NHS Pension Scheme proposal – factsheets - The Government set out the key terms of an improved pension offer for NHS staff on 20 December 2011. Since then, the Department of Health has held constructive talks with ... Read more – NHS Pension Scheme proposal – factsheets

23 February 2012 - Promoting of personal injury legal services in NHS premises - Following recent media and parliamentary interest in advertising and other forms of promotion of the services of personal injury lawyers or claims management companies on NHS premises, David Nicholson has ... Read more – Promoting of personal injury legal services in NHS premises

23 February 2012 - Dame Fiona Caldicott to lead confidentiality review - Dame Fiona Caldicott has agreed to lead an independent from Government review of the balance between protecting patient information and its sharing, to improve patient care. The Department expects to respond ... Read more – Dame Fiona Caldicott to lead confidentiality review

23 February 2012 - The impact of age on oncology decision making - Improving Outcomes: A Strategy for Cancer stated that there is evidence that older people do not always receive the same standard of cancer treatment as younger patients. Sometimes healthcare professionals ... Read more – The impact of age on oncology decision making

23 February 2012 - Performance and capability review of the Care Quality Commission - Today the Department has published the report of its Performance and Capability Review of the Care Quality Commission. The review is intended to provide robust assurance to the public, ... Read more – Performance and capability review of the Care Quality Commission

22 February 2012 - GPs to "prescribe" apps for patients - People could soon be directed to free or cheap apps by their GPs to allow them to monitor and manage their health more effectively. At an event held today, showcasing ... Read more – GPs to "prescribe" apps for patients

21 February 2012 - A framework for NHS patient experience - The Department has today published the NHS Patient Experience Framework, which outline the areas most important to patients' experience of NHS services. Improving patient experience is a key aim for ... Read more – A framework for NHS patient experience

18 February 2012 - Minister discusses PiP experiences - On Friday, Public Health Minister Anne Milton met with five women to talk about their experiences with PiP breast implants. They discussed the treatment they had all received so far. ... Read more – Minister discusses PiP experiences

Australian Medical Association

24 February 2012 - Good news for general practice - The Australian Medical Authority (AMA) welcomes Health Minister Tanya Plibersek's announcement that all 1,000 general practice training places for this year have been fully subscribed. AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton said today that this is good news for patients as access to quality general practice care will continue to improve as more GPs graduate and start work in the community in coming years.

23 February 2012 - Submission: Pricing Framework for Public Hospital Services - The AMA's submission to the Independent Hospital Pricing Authority on a pricing framework for public hospital services calls for hospital services to be funded on the basis of an "effective" rather than an "efficient" price. An effective price is one that provides sustainable and equitable access to high quality hospital services. The submission details the AMA's support for appropriate funding of post-hospital care; investment in teaching, training and research; and small- and medium-sized hospitals.

23 February 2012 - AMA strongly supports DonateLife Week - The AMA strongly supports DonateLife Week and the work of the Government and the Organ and Tissue Authority to generate greater awareness and understanding of organ and tissue donation in the community. AMA Vice President, Professor Geoffrey Dobb said today that Australia's organ donation rate is increasing, with Australia achieving its highest donation rate last year, but more hard work and education is needed to build on this success.

20 February 2012 - Submission: NPS Prescribing Competencies Framework Project The AMA submission to the National Prescribing Service (NPS) Prescribing Competencies Project highlights the need for greater emphasis on: adequate level of training to meet competency requirements to prescribe; practitioners prescribing within their scope of practice; being competent in using knowledge and making judgments on when not to prescribe; referring a person to another health professional when that person's clinical condition is outside scope of practice; referring a person to a medical practitioner if they fail to improve within a specified period of time; keeping prescribing and dispensing separate; and effectively communicating in English.

20 February 2012 - Urgent call to better protect Australian workers from occupational cancers - MJA release - Australia needs to implement world's best practice in reducing exposure to cancer-causing agents to reduce the toll of work-related cancers, according to an article published in the February 20 issue of the Medical Journal of Australia.

20 February 2012 - Study reveals deadly impact of atherothrombosis - MJA release - Almost 40% of people in the community with extensive atherothrombotic disease will suffer a cardiovascular event within a year, according to research published the February 20 issue of the Medical Journal of Australia.

20 February 2012 - Call to review pricing of generics - MJA release - Australia could save hundreds of millions of dollars in PBS subsidies if generic medicines were prescribed more often and the system for pricing them was improved, according to an editorial published in the 20 February issue of the Medical Journal of Australia.

20 February 2012 - Obesity research reveals new clues by age and stage - MJA release - A quarter of secondary school students are overweight or obese, and lifestyle and socioeconomic status are implicated, according to research published in the 20 February issue of the Medical Journal of Australia.

20 February 2012 - Hospital takes new tack to cope with aggression - MJA release - Violence and aggression pose significant problems in hospitals, but a formal aggression management system can help, according to a study published the February 20 issue of the Medical Journal of Australia.

Canadian Medical Association

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