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Thursday, 8 December 1960

Dr Donald Cameron (OXLEY, QUEENSLAND) - The answer to the question as to whether the objectives have been achieved is, unequivocally, " Yes ". One of the main objectives sought by the Government was to ensure that in such a measure as this, which is of course a social welfare measure, the recipient would bear directly some portion of the cost. Coupled with that was the desire that the very rapidly rising annual cost of pharmaceutical benefits should be in some way restrained. It is too early yet for us to give definite figures about the financial result, but I am sure it is perfectly true to say that without this measure the expenditure on pharmaceutical benefits within this financial year alone would have been several million pounds more than in fact it will be.

The honorable gentleman's second question as to whether the expense is in any event justified can also be unequivocally answered in the affirmative. As I said, this is a social welfare measure. It brings a very great range of drugs within the financial resources of the population. Every national health scheme must have, as one of its objectives, the provision of adequate modern therapy for the citizens of the country. The average price of prescriptions dispensed under the pharmaceutical benefits scheme is about 19s. and with important drugs, of course, the price to the patient without this scheme would be very much greater, amounting to many pounds per prescription in some instances. In no instance does the patient under the pharmaceutical benefits arrangements pay more than 5s. So I think this can fairly be described as a social welfare measure of very great importance and, from the health point of view, of very great advantage.

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