It’s time to lift the restrictions on medical abortion in Australia – Professor Caroline de Costa

The Conversation, April 1, 2019 6.13am AEDT

Over the past thirteen years, many Australian women have used the drug mifepristone (RU486) to bring about a medical abortion.

Rather than undergoing a surgical abortion in a clinic or hospital operating theatre, a medical abortion is induced by taking drugs prescribed by a doctor.

But while mifepristone has been available in Australia since 2006, only some women, in some parts of the country, are able to access it. Professor Caroline de Costa argues in the Medical Journal of Australia that this needs to change.

The Ban on ‘Amyl’

Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) recently postponed its decision on whether or not to change the law around alkyl nitrites (the active ingredient in ‘amyl’ or ‘poppers’). Currently, the TGA is conducting public consultations into the proposed amendments that could see amyl recategorised as a ‘prohibited substance’.

The legal consequence of this decision could see amyl fall into the same category as prohibited drugs like heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine, with serious penalties for their possession, use or supply. This issue has raised concerns within our communities where amyl is used during sex.

Submissions to the TGA

The deadline for written submissions to the TGA closed on 15 January 2019; however, a number of organisations expressed their concerns including:

Earlier this month, the Nitrites Action Group (comprised of community health advocates, researchers, and clinicians) released guidelines around community submissions to the TGA.

 

Support for ending and managing HIV

Australian Government Department of Health, 29 November 2018

The Australian Government is strengthening its commitment to ending HIV with the announcement of funding for a new strategy that aims to virtually eliminate the transmission of HIV, the approval of the first HIV self-testing kit and the listing of a new medicine on the PBS.

The first HIV self-testing kit, the Atomo Self Test was approved for use by the TGA yesterday. The test is a single-use rapid finger stick test for the detection of antibodies to HIV and will enable people to test for HIV in their own home.

This will make testing accessible and convenient especially for people that need to test frequently or do not test at all.

The medicine Juluca® (dolutegravir and rilpivirine), which works to stop the replication of the HIV virus, will be listed on the PBS on December 1, which is World AIDS Day.

 

Pelvic mesh implant patients want answers from Senate report

ABC 730 report, 26/3/2018

A steady stream of Australian women with pelvic mesh implants have spent tens of thousands of dollars flying to a clinic in Missouri to have their implants removed, claiming they have suffered major side-effects from the implants used to treat prolapse and incontinence.

More than 35 Australian women have made the journey to the same practitioner because, they say, they don’t have faith in Australian surgeons to carry out a full removal of their implant.

The claim that Australia does not have the expertise is rejected by both the Australian Medical Association (AMA) and the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG).

 

 

Essure contraceptive device: Hazard Alert from TGA

Therapeutic Goods Administration, August 30, 2017

Consumers and health professionals are advised that Australasian Medical and Science Ltd (AMSL), in consultation with the TGA, has issued a hazard alert for Essure. AMSL is also recallingunused stock and withdrawing the device from the Australian market.

The updated 2017 ASHM HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) Guidelines

Journal of Virus Eradication, 2017; 3: 168–184

Daily use of co-formulated tenofovir and emtricitabine for HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) by populations at high risk of HIV infection is now recommended in guidelines from the United States, Europe and Australia and globally through the 2015 WHO guidelines. 

These 2017 Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine‘s (ASHM) PrEP Guidelines are an updated adaptation of the 2014 US Centers for Disease Control‘s PrEP guidelines and are designed to:

    • Support the prescription of PrEP using forms of coformulated tenofovir and emtricitabine that have been registered in Australia by the Therapeutic Goods Administration and other bioequivalent generic drugs that are available in Australia through self-importation, private prescription or Australian PrEP clinical trials
    • Assist clinicians in the evaluation of patients who are seeking PrEP
    • Assist clinicians in commencing and monitoring patients on PrEP including PrEP dosing schedules, management of side-effects and toxicity, use of PrEP in pregnancy and in chronic hepatitis B infection and how to cease PrEP

Daily PrEP with co-formulated tenofovir and emtricitabine, used continuously or for shorter periods of time, is recommended in these guidelines as a key HIV-prevention option for men who have sex with men (MSM), transgender men and women, heterosexual men and women, and people who inject drugs (PWID) at substantial risk of HIV acquisition.