Friday, August 21, 2015

NPS MedicineWise National Medicines Symposium 2014: Day 3

Pat Branford, HCCA Consumer Representative, attended the National Prescribing Service (NPS) MedicineWise National Medicines Symposium in late 2014 which was held over three days. The theme of the conference was ‘Medicines in Health: Shaping Our Future’.
Here is a summery on the third day. To read more about the other two days of the conference, click here.

Day 3 Plenary 4 - The Implementation Experience
For these plenary sessions about sustainability the theme was about exploring real world challenges in translating evidence into action and positively shaping the future.

Better communication about medicine shortages – Industry/TGA partnership update: Dr Tony Hobbs, Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)
There may be a shortage in the Australian market of a prescribed medication this can either be a temporary or a permanent (discontinuation). The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has a website where information may be obtained about the shortage of medications if it has been voluntarily provided by pharmaceutical companies.
Tapping into the Lived Experience – Dr Lorraine Smith, the University of Sydney
The main points discussed were:
People with health problems want high quality information and support
·         Provision of answers to questions;
·         To be able to relate to other’s experiences;
·         To make decisions about their health management; and
·         Communicate effectively with health professionals.

Resource Solutions
·         Need to be evidence based;
·         Multimedia;
·         Freely available;
·         Web-based; and
·         Designed for patients, friends and carers.

Questions Posed to Patients should Cover
·         What is your health condition like for you?
·         Are you taking your medication; and
·         What was it like telling your family about your health condition?
It was stated that the NPS Medicinewise website has information for patients about living with multiple medications and talking points about travelling with medications and routines.

Ethics and the media master class in reviewing and evaluating news stories – Facilitated by Gary Schwitzer, Publisher of (USA) and Dr Justin Coleman, GP at Inala Indigenous Health, Brisbane and President, Australasian Medical Writers Association (AU)
To determine if a news story has efficacy does the story explain:
·         What’s the total cost;
·         How often do benefits occur;
·         How often do harms occur;
·         How strong is the evidence;
·         Are there alternative choices;
·         Is the condition exaggerated;
·         Is this really a new approach;
·         Is it available;
·         Who’s promoting this; and
·         Do they have a financial conflict of interest?
To determine what’s the impact on a patient is the benefit exaggerated or emphasized and/or the potential harms ignored or minimised.

Most common flaws in a news article are:
·         Conveying a certainty that doesn’t exist;
·         Exaggerating the size of the effect;
·         Using causal language to describe observational studies;
·         Failing to explain limitations of surrogate markers and end points;
·         Single source stories with no in-depth perspective; and
·         Failing to independently analyse evidence.

Common flaws:
·         Too much stenography i.e. no in-depth vetting of studies in journals;
·         Some articles are not ready for ‘prime time’ publishing i.e. journals are meant for conversations among scientists;
·         Articles were never intended to be sources and daily news – journalists must be aware of the landscape in which they are published;
·         Retractions, research funds, fabrications and falsifications of data;
·         Unpublished data and ghost writing.
We were given several quotes and snippets to take away and think about:
·         Treat medicine as a science and news differently;
·         “Bad science is no excuse for bad journalism”;
·         Inclusive insightful hard-hitting humour makes points and impact but you need to be aware of limitations of the data and you should never believe the stated bottom line without confirming the data;
·         Don’t take anyone’s word for it; and
·         Association is not causation.

Other points
·         Associated Press and Reuters journalists are told to keep their articles under 500 words;
·         Website toolkit tab has a link to 100 industry -independent health care experts that state they do not have financial ties to pharmaceutical or medical device manufacturers. There are some Australian health care experts listed on this website;
·         Online stories have embedded mini polls that ask questions or mini clicks within the story to increase the click rates to impress the journalists’ editor; and
·         When reading an article you need to think about avoidable harm and what is the real risk? Always think about the ‘harm’ aspects and are they covered in the article adequately.

·         Vision is for a high performing health system for universal health care in all countries;
·         Three dimensions of health care:
o   at the lowest level – population – who is covered;
o   services – which services are covered; and
o   top level – what do people have to pay out of pocket.
·         Growing demand for health care is based on:
o   aging;
o   non-communicable/chronic diseases; and
o   rising community expectations.

Pat Branford

HCCA Consumer Representative

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