MJA Insight Update

29 Jun 2017

MJA Insight this week featured three articles with topical and important issues of interest for GPs about medicinal cannabis, alcohol and pregnancy, and generalism.

Medicinal cannabis has attracted renewed interest in the media after the Senate voted to ease the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s (TGA) restrictions on prescribing the drug for terminally ill patients. The change from Category B to A means that prescribing doctors no longer have to seek approval from the TGA and instead are simply required to notify the TGA that they have supplied the drug to a terminally ill patient. AMA President Michael Gannon has expressed concern at the way the legislation was rushed through and urged caution in prescribing medicinal cannabis.

The debate around drinking small amounts of alcohol in pregnancy has reignited after University of Sydney Professor of Paediatrics and Child Health Elizabeth Elliott co-authored research linking prenatal alcohol exposure with changes in babies’ head shapes. The research links low level drinking – no more than two standard drinks per occasion or seven standard drinks a week – to subtle facial changes similar to those found in foetal alcohol syndrome.

An opinion piece has argued in support of refocusing on generalism. The author proposes that a generalist culture should be created within larger Australian hospitals to allow a refocus on the patient rather than just the condition. Through detailed examples, a model that would help lead to improvements in larger as well as rural hospitals is outlined.