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Wednesday, 23 June 1937

Senator BRENNAN (Victoria) (Assistant Minister) . -I move -

That thebill benow read a second time.

This bill is designed to give control over the importation and exportation of that group of medical remedies which are known under various names but which may be brought together under one general description as substances of biological origin. Perhaps the two most familiar of these substances are diphtheria anti-toxin, us an example of a substance prepared by bacterial action, and insulin, as an example of a substance prepared from animal glands. These two will serve to indicate the type of remedies, the control of which is contemplated by the bill.

It is obviously necessary that these substances shall comply with the following basic requirements: -

(a)   they shall be true to a determined standard, that standard having an official and legal status ;

(b)   they shall be free from contaminations, more especially from bacterial contamination ;

(c)   they must be properly and safely packed ; and

(d)   they must be accurately labelled as to dosage.

All of these are obvious and necessary precautions for the sale of these remedies, which are not like ordinary chemicals, prepared in the mass according to wellrecognized processes, but, being prepared from living tissue or from the actionof bacteria, are more sensitive and require more delicate methods of analysis. An official standard for the composition and quality of these remedies has been the subject of a great deal of laboratory investigation which has resulted in the formulation of international standards laid down by a committee especially appointed for this purpose by the League of Nations. It has notbeen possible to take action earlier as these standards have only recently been formulated. They are now being rapidly adopted by the principal countries and the bill is designed to enable the Commonwealth to fall into line with other countries in adopting these standards for therapeutic substances and prescribing the necessary precautions in respect of their manufacture, transport, and sale.

The ambit of the' bill is limited to imports and exports and follows closely on the lines of English legislation dealing with the same subject. There will be complete reciprocity between countries, so that these substances prepared under official supervision in, for example, England and America, will be recognized on arrival in Australia, and, similarly, preparations exported from Australia' will be recognized in importing countries. The bill provides simple machinery giving the Minister power to license importers so as to give an official supervision over the channels of importation Hnd to supervise the preparation of these substances for export. Provision, is also made in respect of the necessary analyses to determine whether the dosage as prescribed on the label adequately represents the strength of the preparation so labelled. There is complete accord on this ma' f,er between the Commonwealth and States, the State representatives on the Federal Health Council having recognized that such action should lie taken; and it is anticipated that this lead given by the Commonwealth will b8 followed by State regulations, so that the system will be uniform and include imports and exports and preparations manufactured within Australia, in respect of which the same standards will be recognized by all authorities.

Debate (on motion by Senator Collings) adjourned.

Senate adjourned 'at 9.5 p.m.

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