DoHA to provide dosage data with brand name on PBS

The Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA) will provide the strength of ingredients for several multi-active drugs as part of their brand name in the July PBS schedule, a move it says will help overcome problems that have arisen after a change in the way medicines are listed.

As Pulse+IT reported yesterday, several medical and pharmacy groups including the AMA, the Pharmacy Guild and the Pharmaceutical Society wrote to DoHA to request it reverse a change to the listing of generic descriptors for multi-active drugs on the PBS.

The organisations, along with the Medical Software Industry Association and Pharmaceutical Defence Ltd, said in a letter to DoHA that the change to alphabetical listing of drugs on the PBS to make it consistent with the Australian Medicines Terminology (AMT) was causing problems with dispensing software for several multi-active drugs.

These include the antihypertensive Coveram, which was previously listed with the active ingredient perindopril first, followed by amlodipine. This is how the ingredients are also listed on the product's label and the product description approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).

The change to the AMT has seen Coveram listed on the PBS with amlodipine first, raising fears that the wrong strength could be dispensed. The problem is also possible with other multi-active drugs identified, including an ointment for psoriasis, a brand of eye drops and the painkiller Panadeine Forte.

The groups said they were concerned that decisions were being made to arbitrarily change the generic description of medicines with multi-active ingredients without consideration for the effect on pharmacists and prescribers, consumers, the medical software industry or manufacturers.

A spokeswoman for the department said that the AMT was a national standard for medicines descriptions and had been developed by NEHTA at the request of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) to provide a nationally uniform and unambiguous way to identify medicines.

“The AMT descriptions have the alphabetical display of ingredients in a multi-ingredient product as the default format,” the spokeswoman said.

“Since 1 December 2012 the Department of Health and Ageing has been using the AMT to describe medicines on the Schedule of Pharmaceutical Benefits to align the PBS with the national standard.

“Moving towards having a national standard naming convention or framework for medicines is in line with international best practice. The use of AMT for the PBS is a significant step in that process being adopted in Australia.”

She said the transition to the AMT for the PBS “was widely communicated through a consultation group” formed by NEHTA which included representatives from the AMA and the Guild.

“The prescribing and dispensing of medicines on the PBS is not only supported by electronic systems to improve patient safety but by the checks and balances of qualified prescribers and dispensers who also ensure any change to labelling or products listed on the PBS are managed according to their patient's condition,” she said.

“However, as a result of stakeholder feedback, the Department is assisting prescribers and dispensers in their transition to the AMT by providing the strength of the ingredients as part of the brand name in the July 2013 PBS Schedule for several multi-ingredient drugs.

“This additional information will ensure prescribers and dispensers can readily identify a match between the PBS listing and the product name and packaging.”

She said the department understood that the MSIA, which represents many of the vendors of prescribing and dispensing software, had recommended to its members that dispensing software include a pharmacist alert for prescriptions of Coveram to assist with correct interpretation of the required dosage for prescribing and dispensing.

“The AMA, the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia and the Pharmaceutical Defence Limited have also issued alerts to members,” she said.

“The Department of Health and Ageing will continue to work with all stakeholders to ensure the adoption and continued evolution of the AMT in the prescribing system delivers best practice health outcomes for patients and clinicians.”

Posted in Australian eHealth

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