Greg Hunt, MP

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt went public on 27 October to promote the government’s decision to list on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme a costly immunotherapy cancer drug that will give more than 1000 Australians with advanced lung cancer access to the discounted medication.

Without PBS subsidy Keytruda would cost around $188,000 a year, or $11,300 per script. Patients will now pay $39.50 per script, or $6.40 for concessionals. In so doing, patients will be able to avoid chemotherapy. The drug is delivered intravenously, usually every three weeks.

Tamara Smith, MP

Festival season is upon us for another year and it’s time to think about the dangers of drug taking at these events. As much as we want to discourage people, young and old, from taking illegal drugs, the reality is that many will still engage in this risky behaviour. Drug users make a personal choice to risk their health and the health of those around them when they take drugs.

I support pill/drug testing at music festivals in order to help protect young (and not-so-young) risk takers. This is a different matter from the moral issue of drugs, it is a safety issue. Without pill testing, drug takers have an unforeseeable risk of further harm because they do not know the exact substance they are imbibing. Collectively, turning a blind eye to the harm caused by dangerous chemicals in recreational drugs is forcing drug takers to take risks, rather than arming them with choice.

In his 20 September 2018 blog, Dr Edwin Kruys, former Vice President of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), writes of the increasing consolidation of Australian health data and its analysis within the Federal Department of Health.

May 1st 2019 will see changes to the Australian Government’s Practice Incentive Scheme, with the abolition of practice incentives for asthma, cervical screening, diabetes, quality prescribing and aged care access. While the exact nature of the replacement is not known, the previous plan was shelved just prior to the May 2018 Budget. It envisioned an all encompassing Quality Improvement payment and this remains the most likely basis for the new system.

GPReferral.com

Recently I had a patient needing a blepharoplasty and tarsorrhaphy, however finding an eye surgeon who could offer both proved more difficult than it should.

Which urologist does public work? Does a psychologist work with someone under 18 years of age? Do they do EMDR or work with eating disorders? Have they closed their books? Which general surgeon does that operation?

GPReferral.com was born from the frustrations and difficulties of the referral process like these. The program is a secure online Rolodex-ike database designed to provide general practitioners with the ability to search for specialist and allied health professionals.

How to Change Your Mind

The ‘high priest of LSD’, Dr Timothy Leary casts a long shadow over this exhaustive study of mind altering compounds despite being dismissed early on as a washed-up psychologist who had less influence over the potential value of psychedelics than he claimed.

The Berkley, California based academic was by no means the first to realise the effects of ‘acid’. That was down to the chemist Albert Hoffmann who, in 1938, thirty years before Leary et al discovered tripping, inadvertently absorbed LSD-25 in his lab and after lying down on a couch in his home reported perceiving “an uninterrupted stream of fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopic play of colors.”