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Thursday, 16 May 1968


Dr FORBES (BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) (Minister for Health) - I am interested in the point of view put by the honourable member in his question because I clearly remember the Leader of the Opposition on several occasions making speeches in which he put exactly the opposite case and told us how much money the Government could save if we compelled generic prescribing of drugs instead of the use of brand names. I think the honourable member should get together with his leader on this matter. The answer to the honourable member's question about whether the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee compels prescribing pharmaceutical benefits by generic names is no. The pharmaceutical benefits list contains both the brand name and the generic name. A doctor can prescribe drugs for his patients by the brand name. In fact I am informed that most doctors do this.

In relation to the other matters raised by the honourable member, I am not aware of the particular drug or the particular company he has mentioned. The Commonwealth Government has control only over the quality of drugs imported and which are listed as pharmaceutical benefits or are used for the Commonwealth's purposes. All these drugs are tested by the National Biological Standards Laboratory, which is controlled by my Department, both initially, before being placed on the list, and from time to time thereafter to ensure that the quality is maintained. In respect of drugs manufactured in Australia and which are' not listed as pharmaceutical benefits, the responsibility for ensuring adequate standards rests wilh the States.







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