February edition of Australian Prescriber out now

Calcium and cardiovascular risks

Calcium supplements, commonly used with vitamin D in the treatment or prevention of osteoporosis, have recently been shown to increase cardiovascular risk and may be less effective in preventing bone fractures than previously thought, according to Senior research fellow Mark Bolland, Associate professor Andrew Grey and Professor Ian Reid of the Bone and Joint Research Group, University of Auckland. The authors review the evidence for the use of calcium and vitamin D supplements in people with osteoporosis, including the role of dietary calcium, and provide recommendations for practice.

Editorial: Are prescription copayments compromising patient care?

As the cost of patient copayments continues to rise, evidence is emerging that more patients are failing to collect their prescriptions and are less adherent to their medicines due to large out-of-pocket costs. Michael Ortiz, Conjoint associate professor at St Vincent’s Clinical School in Sydney, writes that this can lead to unintended effects on patients and the health system.

After 25 years of a fixed copayment system in Australia, Associate Professor Ortiz says it's time for a review to ensure that medicines remain affordable for those who need them, and that adherence is not compromised by cost.

Safe use of oral cytotoxic medicines

The last decade has seen increase in the use of oral chemotherapies to treat both cancer and non-cancer conditions, but despite the practical advantages they offer there are still many risks to consider, writes Christine Carrington, Senior consultant pharmacist at Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane. She details why it is essential for health professionals involved in providing oral chemotherapies to understand how they are used, what adverse effects can occur and how medication errors can be minimised. Christine Carrington emphasises the importance of written and verbal communication for patients and carers to ensure the safe and effective use of these therapies.

Other articles in this edition of Australian Prescriber look at the safe and effective use of lithium, and new developments in electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). Also read about the safety of leflunomide, and safety updates for thyroxine and oral bowel cleansing products.

To read the full articles and more visit www.australianprescriber.com

ENDS

Australian Prescriber is an independent peer-reviewed journal providing critical commentary on therapeutic topics for health professionals, particularly doctors in general practice. It is published every two months and distributed to health professionals free of charge, and is also available online at www.australianprescriber.com 

Media enquiries: Stephanie Childs on 02 8217 8667, 0419 618 365 or schilds@nps.org.au