201610-DNA-strandIt’s in ACCC’s DNA
The ACCC has sounded a warning to DNA ‘retailers’ that they are watching them – closely. It fired a shot over Chemart’s bow when the watchdog told the retailer that the promotion for its myDNA test was misleading. The material in Chemmart’s catalogues, television infomercials and in-store brochures made claims about the effectiveness of the test in identifying an individual’s response to certain drugs. It “risked conveying a false or misleading impression regarding the usefulness of the genetic test, and the consumers for whom it may be appropriate,” says the ACCC. It went on further to say consumers trusted pharmacists and the information they provide … “Consumer are entitled to expect that products and services…are promoted in a way that is clear and accurate, and explains both [their] benefits and limitations.” The ACCC accepted an administrative undertaking by Chemmart to withdraw the offending material.

MBS item shake-up just the start
Early in September the MBS taskforce handed down it interim report and it didn’t take long for it to alienate thousands of doctors. The president of the RACGP, Dr Frank Jones, was less than impressed. “The federal government is running an inequitable campaign against general practice and GPs, which is not based on best evidence,” he told media. The big offence is this oddly termed ‘administrative’ GP consult. Frank smells a rat with the report being leaked to The Australian newspaper before its release and that coverage focuses on ‘wasteful’ GPs. Leaving that to one side, the report’s Appendix A should be mandatory reading for all docs. Here the clinical committees report their deliberations. We heard a little about the Imaging team’s talk during the election but ENT, Gastroenterology, Obstetrics and Thoracic medicine have also offered up their obsolete item numbers. The interesting recommendation from the ENT team is for the fee differential between GPs and specialists doing the same procedure to be scrapped. And that message is reiterated by the Obstetrics committee for ectopic pregnancy. Download the report www.health.gov.au

Faster help for FASD kids
In August, we spoke to Telethon Kids’ Prof Carol Bower about the FASD project at Banksia Hill Juvenile Detention Centre and she announced then that the long-awaited diagnostic tool was ‘close’. That day has arrived and it is now ready for practitioners who have patients at high-risk to download. Carol said the tool would allow clinicians to make an early FASD diagnosis using the national standardised diagnostic criteria and instrument and provide the foundation to improve rates of diagnoses of FASD in Australia. “Unfortunately…FASD is a condition that is under diagnosed in Australia. We hope this national tool will improve those rates.” You can download HERE.

Razors at the ready
In July, we spoke to HBF boss Rob Bransby who was pushing for an overhaul of the prostheses pricing list when he discovered the difference in prices being charged for prostheses in public and private hospitals. He would be welcoming the Health Minister Sussan Ley’s announcement of a new Prostheses List Advisory Committee (PLAC) in mid-September, led by cardiologist Prof Terry Campbell, who is an academic at UNSW and head of medicine at St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney. He has also been a long-time member of the PBAC. The minister has tasked the committee not only to improve affordability and access for consumers but to reduce duplication in the TGA’s assessment processes.  She also promises improved transparency of the PLAC’s deliberations.

Truth doesn’t hurt a bit
Well the world didn’t implode with the first reporting of payments and transfers of value to doctors on the Medicines Australia website on August 31. In fact it was a little underwhelming and not very sexy at all. The amounts were modest and often for attendances to interstate meetings – gone were the thoughts of hoola girls and Bollinger. And given the public statement by Medicines Australia, you’d never know they resisted the changes like ornery mules. Now MA and its members are “leading the way in providing greater transparency for consumers”. Payments, it said, were for doctors to share their expertise and knowledge with pharmaceutical companies or leading medical education for other healthcare professionals. Doctors who appear on the register have given consent for their interactions with drug companies to be made public. According to MA, nearly two out of three healthcare professionals agreed to have their names reported; so that leaves a third whose dealings remain secret. We know that meals under the value of $120  don’t have to be reported, perhaps the Bolli is on ice somewhere?

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