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Health Bulletin (5 March 2018)

The latest insights from our Health Law team.

In this edition:

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Fake chiropractor and fake psychologist successfully prosecuted

AHPRA has successfully prosecuted two people for unlawful use of the protected titles psychologist and chiropractor and holding themselves out as registered health practitioners.

The fake chiropractor pleaded guilty to six separate charges relating to unlawful use of a protected title, holding himself out as a registered health practitioner (acupuncturist and chiropractor) and holding himself out as authorised or qualified to practise as a medical practitioner and chiropractor. Mr George Zaphir recorded a conviction in respect of all charges, imposing a fine of $12,000 and a requirement to pay AHPRA’s costs.

In the case of the man holding himself out as a psychologist, Mr Adam Carrozza pleaded guilty to the five charges concerning his conduct and was fined $10,000 and ordered to pay AHPRA’s costs. No conviction was recorded.

Read more about the chiropractor case here.

Read more about the psychologist case here.

Funding for PrEPX to keep protecting Victorians

The Victorian Government has announced that it will provide an extra $400,000 funding to extend the PrEPX HIV prevention medication study.  The additional investment means the study will now run until 30 June 2018 – three months longer than its initial period. 

This announcement comes in the wake of the PrEP medication recently being listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, making it more affordable and accessible.  The extra funding is intended to allow Victorians to transition to accessing PrEP through their GP.  The Government is working to develop resources for doctors and nurses to allow them to easily dispense PrEP immediately after the study ends.

Read the Government’s media release here.

Investigation into complex pharmacy licence applications set to target franchise agreements

The Victorian Pharmacy Authority (“VPA”) has announced that it is set to begin stricter investigations into complex pharmacy licence applications to ensure compliance with the Pharmacy Regulations Act 2010 (Vic).

In December 2016, the VPA commissioned PharmConsul to conduct an independent external review of its licence application and renewal processes. In response to the recommendations made by PharmConsult, the VPA has announced that it supports the recommendations of the review and the outcomes of the recommendations seek to achieve. The Final Report can be accessed here.

The VPA has established an internal committee, and engaged extensively with external lawyers, accountants and auditors in planning significant changes to the approval processes for new pharmacy premises.

The measures are seen as likely to impact on pharmacies launching under a range of strongly-branded franchise groups, involving increased scrutiny of pharmacy business commercial arrangements.

New applications involving complex business arrangements now face heavier scrutiny and could potentially be referred to external lawyers or accountants for review.

The VPA has warned that the new process may result in increased costs to licensees as well as extended processing times.

Guidelines on pharmacy business commercial arrangements are currently being developed. Publications of these is expected to commence this month.

Read VPA's media alert here.

Nick Xenophon’s FOI

The Australian Information Commissioner (“AIC”) handed down its decision on 8 February 2018 with respect to Nick Xenophon’s application to review the Department of Health’s (“Department”) decision to refuse access to the legal costs invoiced in relation to arbitration between the Commonwealth and Phillip Morris Asia Limited (Hong Kong).

The Department contended the document was exempt in full pursuant to section 33(a)(iii) of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (“FOI Act”) on the basis that access to the document could cause damage to international relations of the Commonwealth. The Department submitted that the disclosure of the legal costs would adversely affect Australia’s standing as a world leader in the tobacco industry. 

The AIC was of the opinion that the legal costs incurred are unique to each case and does not necessarily mean that the information gathered in this specific litigated matter would dissuade other nations from defending their position through litigated means. 

The AIC agreed with Nick Xenophon that disclosure of the information would demonstrate Australia’s commitment to regulate the tobacco industry and objectives of the World Health Organisation, rather than diminish Australia’s standing in the industry. Accordingly, the AIC found the document was not exempt and the Department must hand over a copy of the document.

The full judgement can be accessed here.

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