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Thursday, 2 August 1906
Page: 2255


Mr SPEAKER - I do not think that the honorable member has departed from legitimate argument.


Mr HUGHES - I am very pleased that my remarks are so apropos as to cause the honorable member to rise to a point of order. I regret that the Minister has not power to insist that all prescriptions shall be written in English so that we may know what they are. I speak with some degree of feeling, since I had occasion to notice how prescriptions 'written for my family varied from day to day. One thing alone was constant, and that was the price. The effect owing to my foresight was happily not quite what the medical attendants expected, because I placed the medicines dispensed according; to these prescriptions where they were likely to do the most good - on my lawn - with the result that they apparently withered the rising grass to art. extent that to a man with an artistic eye was absolutely appalling. What we need to provide is that the people shall know what these preparations contain. It is notfor us to consider what they do with them. If a person who has reached adult years chooses to think that the taking of a certain quantity of chloroform or of podophyllin will do him good, let him do so. IF he passes away, as the result of using these things, that will be an excellent reason why his wife and family should not kill themselves from the same cause. And so such a man will, in his own littleway, raise one of these monuments which do some service to. mankind. As to thedesirability of passing this motion, one only needs to go into a drug store tosee the enormous quantity of drugsof various kinds that are taken - and taken, so far as I can see, with absolutely no beneficial result. But I am notgoing to condemn all patent medicines. I understand that the Minister pins hisfaith to one particular brand to which heflies upon occasions, with the most gratifying results. I do not know whether he is inclined to make known the brand, but if" he is, now is the time for him to do so. I notice that the honorable member for Kooyong is looking with a certain degreeof anxiety and hope towards the honorable gentleman, but, although I haveendeavoured to induce the Minister todivulge the brand, he has hitherto refused to do so. There are, happily, patent medicines which db a great deal' of good. In spite of what the honorable member for Laanecoorie has said" about patent medicines and quack practitioners, I venture to assert that on the whole the medicines that are dispensed bv regular practitioners will bear as little examination as will those ;handed' out by quacks. I am inclined to think, however, that the practitioner relies more upon water and on the beneficent interference of the Deity than he does upon drugs. That isa comparatively recent innovation. Formerly, it was the custom of medical practitioners to barbarously mutilate a man by bleeding him. That was considered to be the only method by which one could1 achieve anything likea reasonable degree of health and strength. Nowadays, if a medical man suggested suchtreatment, he would be regarded as a barbarian. No doubt the day will come when? the present generation of doctors will be considered to have been little further skilled in the science of medicine than were the medicine-men of the Red Indians. While surgery has made startling strides, medicine is in its swaddling clothes, and is kept there by such silly practices as the illegible writing of prescriptions in words, supposed to be Latin, which no Latinist could decipher or understand. Three words alone stand out plainly in the ordinary prescription - the word recipe - and, if the patient is foolish enough, he follows the advice, and takes the medicine - and the words aqua pura, that element always being present in liberal quantities. I know that the Minister holds the views which I am now uttering, and has that contempt for the medical profession - of course, not for the individual doctors who compose it - which it deserves. No doubt, the profession is a beneficent one. It has done a great deal of good. Our cemeteries are proof of that. But it is obvious that its members have yet a great deal to learn. That is shown by the statement of the honorable member for Brisbane, who, after a lifetime of experiment, tells us that if a patent medicine contains aloes, or calomel, or soap- which I believe .to be, the foundation of certain pills - there is room for difference of opinion as to its probable action. I should have thought that there could be no difference of opinion on that subject, but, after his pronouncement, shall not venture to express mv views on the point. I hope that the honorable member for Barrier will accept the emendation suggested by this eminent authority, so that we may do what will be at once desirable and sensible.







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