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Thursday, 2 December 1976

Mr HUNT (GWYDIR, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Health) -It is true that the honourable member for Parramatta, the honourable member for Hughes and a number of other honourable members from both sides of the House made representations to me as a consequence of my accepting the recommendations of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee to reduce the age eligibility from 6 years to 18 months for the availability of cow's milk substitutes. That recommendation was made last year. Because of the representations that I have received from the honourable member and from other honourable members in the Parliament I referred the matter back to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee for its reconsideration. The Committee acknowledged that there was a need for cow's milk substitutes for some children who are allergic to cow's milk. The

Committee recognised also that there was a considerable amount of abuse in the usage of these substitutes. As a consequence of this the usage rate was centred principally in several centres or regions within the city of Sydney. The Committee made further inquiries, discussed the matter with physicians, pediatricians and others and recommended that the age limit be increased from 18 months to 2 years. I have now approved that recommendation and it will become effective as from 1 April 1977.

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