NPS Direct – September 2013

Published in NPS Direct

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Rapid HIV testing

Rapid HIV testing: better or just faster?

The TGA has recently registered a rapid HIV test for use as a point-of-care test for preliminary HIV screening. The use of point-of-care tests may facilitate earlier diagnosis and lead to better outcomes. What do you need to know about point-of-care testing for HIV?

Antipsychotic overuse

Antipsychotic overuse in dementia: is there a problem?

Behaviourial and psychological problems occur in almost all people with dementia. They can be very distressing to patients and carers, but is antipsychotic use appropriate? Research has demonstrated that many dementia patients may not be receiving best-practice care.


Does finasteride prevent or promote prostate cancer?

A new study has clarified the link between finasteride and prostate cancer. The study found different effects on early- and late-stage diagnoses but no effect on mortality in men treated with finasteride. What does this mean for your patients taking finasteride?


Fast five: Medicines in older people


Ageing affects medicines use

Ageing-related physiological changes can increase the risk of medicines-related problems. These changes can amplify people's reaction to medicines. This may change the risks versus benefits of a medicine and should be taken into account before prescribing.


Medicines-related problems

Research has found that older people experience a range of medicines-related problems. Most problems are caused by monitoring or prescribing factors that are preventable. Recognising symptoms that relate to medicines-related problems is important.



Half of all Australians aged 65–74 report taking more than five medicines daily. Increasing the number of medicines makes adverse events more likely, and polypharmacy is associated with a range of problems in older people.


Identify inappropriate prescribing

Inappropriate prescribing and polypharmacy are more likely to occur in older people. However, the solution is not to determine how many medicines, but to ensure people take the right medicines.


Tools to support safe use of medicines in older people

NPS MedicineWise has a range of tools and resources to support safe use of medicines in older people, including medicines risk screens and patient-support tools.


More health news and evidence

Statins revisited: appropriate patient selection is key

Base a decision to start statin therapy on a patient's absolute CVD risk. This can be determined through the use of a risk calculator. Find out more about who should be assessed and what the treatment recommendations are.

Changes to pack size for paracetamol

The TGA has announced that from 1 September 2013 the maximum paracetamol pack size to be sold by non-pharmacy retailers will be limited to 20 × 500 mg doses. It is expected that decreasing the pack size will result in fewer people requiring medical intervention for paracetamol overdose. Larger packs will still be available at pharmacies.


Earn CPD points

For pharmacists — promoting safe use of oral anticoagulants

Want to know more about the safe use of the new oral anticoagulants and how they compare with warfarin? Complete the latest Pharmacy Practice Review and earn 8 hours of Group 2 CPD points (16 credits).

Updated CVD Risk Clinical e-Audit for GPs — now available online

On completing this Clinical e-Audit nearly half of GPs changed their practice on the use of an absolute CVD risk tool when assessing patients and when advising lifestyle modification. This online version includes the latest Australian guidelines for the management of absolute CVD risk.


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