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Tuesday, 30 November 1965

Mr Reynolds (BARTON, NEW SOUTH WALES) s asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -

1.   How often has the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee met during the last twelve months?

2.   What is the average time taken between reference and decision on items coming before the committee's notice?

3.   How many items have been referred to the committee in each of the last three years?

4.   How many references are awaiting decision after consideration for (a) six months, (b) nine months, (c) twelve months and (d) more than one year?

5.   What persons or authorities are empowered to make references to the committee?

Mr Swartz - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows -

1.   On three occasions.

2.   My department refers all applications for the listing of drugs as pharmaceutical benefits for consideration by the committee at its first meeting after receipt of the application, provided the application is received in sufficient time for that meeting. It is the committee's practice at each meeting to reach a decision as to its recommendation on the great majority of applications placed before it for consideration. In some instances a minor delay is occasioned while the committee obtains the views of the Australian Drug Evaluation Committee on a matter or refers an application to a specialist body, such as the Antibiotics Committee of the National Health and Medical Research Council, for specialist advice. It is not possible to state precisely the average time taken between receipt of an application and the committee's decision on that application. However, as the committee meets at least three times a year, there would not normally be a greater delay than about three months.

3.   1963: 624. 1964: 535. 1965: 421. These figures include -

(a)   applications for the inclusion of new forms and strengths of existing pharmaceutical benefits;

(b)   applications for variation in the conditions of prescribing existing pharmaceutical benefits; and

(c)   cases where the committee rejects an application for the listing of a drug at one meeting and a subsequent request is made for that drug to be reconsidered for listing at a later meeting in the same year. 4. (a) One, which was first considered by the committee at its meeting in March 1965.

(b)   None.

(c)   One, which was first considered by the committee at its meeting in November 1964.

(d)   None.

5.   Any person, authority or firm may make submissions to the committee, and all submissions are considered by the committee.

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