News in brief: New levothyroxine therapy listed on PBS; Osteoporosis researcher awarded Australia Day Honour; Consultants urged to act on junior doctor wage theft

Wednesday, 2 Feb 2022

New levothyroxine therapy listed on PBS

The PBS has listed another thyroid hormone replacement therapy and this one doesn’t need refrigerating, its manufacturer Sun Pharma says.

From 1 February 2022, Levoxine (levothyroxine sodium) will be subsidised for the management of hypothyroidism, and for thyroid tumours which are responsive to thyroid stimulating hormone.

The ‘a-flagged’ levothyroxine sodium product is bioequivalent to Oroxine and Eutroxsig and can be substituted with these drugs on a same-dose basis at any stage of dispensing, in line with the PBS treatment criteria. The drug is not bioequivalent to Eltroxin, however, and switching between these drugs should be done with a TSH-monitoring plan and may require dose adjustment, the company said.

Professor Duncan Topliss, Senior Endocrinologist at the Alfred Hospital, Melbourne, said that while the bioequivalent drugs have the same active ingredient and patient outcomes, the new formulation can be stored outside the refrigerator and could offer patients “a little bit more flexibility in terms of ease of use of the drug, perhaps when they’re travelling”,

As a result, “some people starting out on the agent might prefer to use [Levoxine]” but “I don’t think there’s a need for patients who are well stabilised on their current brand [of levothyroxine sodium] and don’t have any concerns about storage or access to it to change”, he told the limbic.

Osteoporosis researcher awarded Australia Day Honour

Professor Tuan Van Nguyen has been awarded a  Member (AM) of the Order of Australia for his significant service to medical research, to osteoporosis and fracture prevention, and to tertiary education.

Professor Nguyen is Director of the Centre for Health Technologies and Professor of Predictive Medicine at the University of Technology Sydney.

He was previously Head of the Genetic Epidemiology of Osteoporosis Lab at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research from 2001 to 2021 and was one of the leading contributors to the development of the Garvan Fracture Risk Calculator.

He is a Principal Investigator on the Dubbo Osteoporosis and Epidemiology Study.

Among his previous honours, Professor Nguyen is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Science.

Consultants urged to act on junior doctor wage theft

Hospital consultants are being urged to help stop public hospital ‘wage theft’ from junior doctors.

An article in MJA Insight says that doctors-in-training are deterred from claiming overtime for fear of being labelled inefficient, incompetent or greedy. Since claims must be signed off by a consultant who usually act as a referee for the junior doctor’s reappointment, these senior clinicians are in a key position to help prevent the chronic underpayment of doctors-in-training, writes Dr Leanne Rowe. They must also support junior staff access to entitlements such extra shift allowances, on call penalties, breaks and training periods, she says.

“Senior consultants must urgently re-examine how they manage legitimate claims for the basic pay entitlements by subordinates, as well as notifying public hospital management of the need for adequate funding for payroll,” she writes.

“Continuing to expect junior doctors to perform significant additional volunteer hours in the presence of many other serious occupational health and safety issues is not only grossly unjust – it’s criminal,” she concludes.

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