Hosted by a rotating group of interviewers including our CEO and pharmacist, Adj A/Prof Steve Morris, and GP and NPS MedicineWise medical adviser Dr. Anna Samecki, we’ll wade through the reams of information – and sometimes misinformation – to provide answers from trusted sources for all of your quality use of medicines questions.

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Episode 23: Update on COVID-19 vaccines – February 2021

In this episode, recorded on 17 February 2021, NPS MedicineWise CEO Adj A/Prof Steve Morris is joined by the head of the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) Adj Prof John Skerritt to hear the latest information about COVID-19 vaccination in Australia, which is rolling out from this month. They discuss how the TGA makes decisions about which vaccines to approve in terms of both safety and efficacy, and how potential adverse events from the vaccines will be monitored as the vaccine is rolled out.

This information was current as at 17 February 2021. For up to date information please visit our Further Reading links.

Further reading
COVID-19 vaccines – TGA approval process [video]:

TGA information on COVID-19 vaccines:

Report a problem or side effect to the TGA:

Vaccines and COVID-19 – NPS MedicineWise article:

Episode 22: A lived experience of dementia and changed behaviours

In this episode Dr Anna Samecki talks with Theresa Flavin, who has been living with dementia for many years. Theresa gives a powerful insight into how it feels being on ‘the other side’ and offers a unique patient perspective on dementia and changed behaviour care.

Further reading
NPS MedicineWise -

Dementia Training Australia -

Dementia Outcomes measurement suite -

Dementia Australia -

Older Persons Advocacy Network -

The Empowered Project -

Episode 21: Quality use of medicines in an exceptional year – a 2020 wrap up

After the closing address at the National Medicines Symposium 2020, Steve Morris chats with Prof Andrew McLachlan – Head of School and Dean of Pharmacy at the University of Sydney. They reflect on the symposium with the theme of Rising to the medication safety challenge, what 2020 has meant for the quality use of medicines and how COVID-19 has shown us what is possible.

Episode 20: Medicines for COVID-19 – where did we land?

In this episode NPS MedicineWise CEO Adj A/Prof Steve Morris catches up with Executive Director of the National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce A/Prof Julian Elliott. They discuss how 2020 played out in terms of the top medicines that were touted as treatments for COVID-19, the emerging areas of evidence, and how clinicians on the ground have been applying the living guidelines.

Further reading

The National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce and its Living Guidelines:

NPS MedicineWise COVID-19 information hub:

Episode 19: Opioids special #1: Tapering opioids in partnership with patients with chronic non-cancer pain

In this special edition of the NPS MedicineWise podcast, Dr Jill Thistlethwaite talks with Associate Professor Michael Vagg, pain physician and Dean of the Faculty of Pain Medicine Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (ANZCA) and Mr Don Firth, a member of Painaustralia’s Consumer Advisory Group, about the challenges involved in tapering opioids. They discuss the practical aspects of tapering, drawing from their different experiences, and sharing examples from clinical practice. 

This podcast was developed with funding from the Therapeutic Goods Administration, Australian Government Department of Health.

Further reading:

Episode 18: Dementia and changed behaviours: a person-centred approach

In this episode Dr Anna Samecki talks with accredited pharmacist Kara Joyce, who has been overseeing the new NPS MedicineWise program on Dementia and changed behaviours: a person-centred approach. 

They discuss the main issues facing aged care, specifically from a dementia and changed behaviours perspective, the impact of COVID-19 on this space, the importance of person-centred care, and what resources are available for health professionals to support consumers, their families and carers.

Further reading

Episode 17: Supporting clinicians to provide safe and quality health care

In this episode Steve Morris interviews Dr Robert Herkes, Chief Medical Officer with the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care and past Director of Intensive Care at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney. They discuss the ways in which the Commission has been supporting clinicians during COVID-19 and touch on some of the important lessons learned as a result of the pandemic. They also discuss why medication safety has proved to be such a difficult challenge over the years, and invite listeners to hear more at an upcoming panel discussion at the virtual National Medicines Symposium (NMS) 2020 to be held on Monday 7 December.

Further reading:

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care:

National Medicines Symposium (NMS) 2020:

Episode 16: Mental health for health professionals

In this episode Dr Anna Samecki talks with Melissa Black, a clinical psychologist from the Black Dog Institute. They discuss why it’s important for healthcare workers to proactively look after their own mental health, when to seek professional help, some simple ways to manage stress, and some of the resources available including The Essential Network (TEN), an e-health hub for healthcare workers. 

Further reading:
The Black Dog Institute:
TEN - The Essential Network for Health Professionals:
If you need crisis support, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14

Episode 15: Cancer testing during the pandemic

In the early phase of the pandemic, cancer testing rates fell significantly. In this episode Steve Morris speaks with Professor Dororthy Keefe, CEO of Cancer Australia, about the rates of cancer testing during the pandemic and the potential follow-on effects of this. 

Further reading:

Cancer Australia Website:

Cancer Won’t Wait Campaign: