Medication meanderings

Datamonitor reports that the Aussie asthma/COPD market grew from $278m in 2006 to $333m in 2009. However, it says growth will slow considerably as new drugs launched will be me-too products or combinations of existing classes. Add in price competition for PBS listing and the honey pot shrinks. The amalgamations we are seeing across the pharmaceutical industry internationally are in part due to a diminishing ‘pipeline’ of new drug discoveries, as well as increased compliance costs, government drug cost pruning and civil court actions. Closer to home, just after we published the letter pointing to the link between calcium supplements and adverse cardiovascular events, a press release arrived on Medical Forum’s desk from the Complementary Healthcare Council (CHC) telling members and consumers not to panic over the news, and pointing to counter research findings. It’s all about weight of evidence these days and gone are the certainties we all enjoyed in earlier days.

Broome expansion again!

The WA government press release elves have been working overtime lately (what election?). We are up to press release no. 10 on this one…construction is set to start any day on a new acute psychiatric unit and paediatric facility in Broome. Norbuilt Australia will construct, taxpayers will gladly fork out $9m, and 14 beds will eventually be occupied. It is the first of its kind in the north of WA (what, $1.5m per bed or north of the something parallel?) and will provide vital access to services for people in the Kimberley and Pilbara. The new building will replace a transportable (normally reserved for schools) and have sufficient capacity to cater for future paediatric and obstetric service demand (forever?).

Not so super clinics

Some GPs are scrambling to make up RACGP QA&CPD ‘Browny Points’ before the triennium runs out this year. They need 130 points (with two Category 1 activities in the mix), and one basic cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) course. Everyone is cashing in www.racgp.org.au/wa/news/38480. Back at the WA Faculty, the Claremont office will soon be packing boxes to move the whole show to a newly purchased College House in West Leederville. Our Faculty, not too long after the successful Vasantha Preetham bid to establish a Midland Super Clinic, has given the thumbs down to the whole concept. It says the model of big clinics with lots of services and teaching are commendable but the current program’s implementation sucks – tenders ignored key local GP groups, locations crowding out existing practices, and funds lavished on a few clinics while infrastructure to house practice teams, students and registrars were badly needed elsewhere.  The WA Faculty wants nothing to do with Super Clinics (just the docs who might work there).

Sane approach

Mental Health Minister Graham Jacobs has welcomed Mr Eddie Bartnik as Western Australia’s first-ever Mental Health Commissioner. He will have a budget of more than $506m for mental health. Eddie is a WA public servant who’s recent gig was with the Disability Services Commission, before slipping into the acting director general role at the Department for Communities since last September. Apparently, his experience in changing disability services to make them more responsive to individual needs and implementation of the Local Area Coordination approach to personalised support and individualised funding for people with a disability caught the attention of others. Could we be seeing someone with initiative, rewarded in WA Health?

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