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Wednesday, 27 October 1993
Page: 2657


Senator CROWLEY (Minister for Family Services and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Status of Women) (6.03 p.m.) —There are two ways in which products are subjected to ongoing monitoring. Senator Chamarette has nodded because she would know what that involves. Firstly, any reporting of adverse reactions to medication or drugs is brought directly to the attention of the TGA through the adverse drug reaction advisory committee. Secondly, there is the random monitoring of goods that have been registered and approved, particularly to see that they maintain manufacturing standards, et cetera. Perhaps we should offer a more comprehensive briefing to Senator Chamarette and take her through the process.

  She asked whether a further inquiry is needed. I am sure that that question has just sent a massive shiver through the TGA representatives, because the TGA is not long out of a very comprehensive inquiry conducted by former senator Peter Baume. I take this opportunity to commend that inquiry by Peter Baume. It covered the sorts of questions that Senator Chamarette is asking and reviewed many of the TGA's processes.   The most important outcome was Peter Baume's recommendation, which has since been adopted, for the timeliness of the testing of therapeutic goods. In times past, there has been a long lead time, which has been a cause of frustration. That has been changed as a result of the Baume inquiry. A second recommendation provides the opportunity for the TGA to make use of research and information provided about any of the products brought before the TGA from overseas. So it is not entirely a process of reinventing the wheel. It is about making use of information that is available to allow the process to be speeded up while in no way jeopardising the safety of those products or the reliability of the TGA's testing.

  I believe that we can be fairly sure that Australia offers very good protection in the whole therapeutic area through the processes of the TGA. Certainly, I suggest that there is no immediate need for an inquiry. All but two recommendations of the Baume inquiry have been implemented. It was a very recent inquiry and it has blown the winds of change through the TGA. The timeliness of the procedure is clear evidence of those new processes being put in place to the benefit of the people of Australia.