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Congenital abnormalities sub-committee

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The Minister for Health, Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson, today announced

the membership of a newly formed body which will advise him on the possible

relationship between the use of certain drugs and congenital abnormalities

in babies.

The body, to be known as the Congenital Abnormalities Sub-committee,

will advise Sir Kenneth through the Australian Drug Evaluation Committee.

It is made up of a physician, a pharmacologist, a paediatrician, an

obstetrician, an authority on congenital malformations in babies and an


The members of the sub-committee are -

Dr. I.D. Thomas, physician of Sydney* Professor G.A. Bentley, Associate

Professor of Physiology at Monash University, Melbourne* Dr. C.W.G. Lee,

physician of Sydney* Dr. T.I. Cope, obstetrician and gynaecologist of

Sydney* Dr. J.D. Harley, physician and Director of the Children's Medical

Research Foundation, Sydney* Professor C.W. Bmnens, Professor of Veterinary

Physiology at the University of Sydney, who is an internationally recognised

biostatistician and epidemiologist. A member of the Australian Drug

Evaluation Committee, Dr. S.J. Goulston, will also be on the sub-committee.

The Committee will also co-opt other experts as necessary. * .

Sir Kenneth Anderson said today that it was important1 that all reports

of congenital abnormalities possibly associated with drug use in Australia

be investigated in depth. Investigations of this kind had already been

carried out by the Australian Drug Evaluation Committee, but this Committee

could not be expected to carry out the specialised examinations in the detail


which might he needed to extend the overall investigations in the future.

The new sub-committee would review reports from general practitioners

and hospitals of congenital abnormalities and would liaise with other

committees, government organisations, private foundations and international

societies working in this field. It would also keep abreast of all

research developments and would keep a close surveillance over drugs likely

to be prescribed or made available over the counter to women of child

bearing age.

Sir Kenneth said that during his recent visit to Europe, the United

Kingdom, the United States and Canada, he had looked into the question of

drug reaction reporting and the measures taken by manufacturers to ensure

safety and efficacy.

was pleased to find that the drug evaluation and safety methods

used in Australia were highly regarded overseas. The formation of the new

Congenital Abnormalities Sub-committee would further strengthen this

already well developed system of reporting and investigation.

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Canberra July 5» 1972. Dept. No. 69