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Tuesday, 23 August 1983
Page: 113

Question No. 276


Mr Wells asked the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 26 May 1983:

(1) Has his attention been drawn to the fact that frequent changes to the free pharmaceutical list cause elderly people inconvenience and stress due to the removal of certain medications which they have taken for long periods for chronic conditions.

(2) Is he able to say why each of the following medications was removed from the free list (a) Dolobid, (b) Tabasan, (c) Linctus Tussinol, (d) Cascard, (e) Paraffin oil, (f) Doloxene and (g) Digesics.


Dr Blewett —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) The main reasons for removal of drugs and medicinal preparations from the pharmaceutical benefits list are-

(a) when the manufacturer ceases to market the drug in Australia;

(b) on the recommendation of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee ( PBAC), which is the independent statutory body established under the National Health Act to advise the Minister for Health on the listing of pharmaceutical benefits (the PBAC makes its recommendations primarily on medical considerations ); and

(c) where a price disagreement between the manufacturer and the Government cannot be resolved.

(2)-

(a) Dolobid has never been listed as a pharmaceutical benefit.

(b) Tabasan has never been listed as a pharmaceutical benefit.

(c) Linctus Tussinol has not been removed from the list.

(d) Cascard-there is no record of a product of this name having been listed as a pharmaceutical benefit. ('Cascara' was deleted due to concern by the PBAC over the abuse of laxative drugs and the view that there should be greater reliance on diet and exercise).

(e) Paraffin oil was deleted due to concern by the PBAC over the abuse of laxative drugs and reports that prolonged ingestion may interfere with the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, particularly vitamins A and D.

(f) Doloxene has never been listed as a pharmaceutical benefit.

(g) Digesic was removed as a benefit due to the incidence of misadventure and death associated with the apparent misuse of dextropropoxyphene, an ingredient in Digesic, and the view that dextropropoxyphene has no therapeutic advantage over other analgesics.