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Wednesday, 24 May 1972
Page: 1953

Senator BROWN (VICTORIA) - I ask the Minister representing the Acting Minister for Health whether he is aware that on the radio programme 'AM' this morning Mr Russell, President of the Pharmaceutical Guild of Australia, registered some concern about the projected intention of supermarkets to sell pharmaceutical products, particularly so far as it concerns the sale of analgesics. Is the Minister aware that Mr Russell said that Guild members had agreed some time ago that, in the interests of the public, analgesics should be sold under supervision? Will the Minister take whatever action is necessary to protect the public against the indiscriminate advertising and sale of analgesics by supermakets?

Senator GREENWOOD - I feel that I am not in a position to commit the Acting Minister for Health, whom I represent in this place. Doubtless he would wish to consult the Minister for Health. Analgesics have been on the market for a very long time. No State legislation restrains or controls their sale. It must be respected that the matter is one for State legislation, if there is to be legislation. The issue has been before the National Health and Medical Research Council on a number of occasions, and various suggestions have been aired as to what steps might be taken. No decisions or specific recommendations have been made by the Council. I think the general pattern of Commonwealth and State Health Ministers* conferences in the general area in which the honourable senator asked his question has been to rely upon the decisions of the National Health and Medical Research Council, it being an expert body representative of the Commonwealth and the States and it being well equipped to make the necessary decisions. Insofar as competition in involved, where there is no problem of injury to health I think we can allow the ordinary processes to take their course. If there is a need to maintain public health, I think the National Health and Medical Research Council would be well acquainted with what has to be done. I will refer the honourable senator's question to the Acting Minister.

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