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Wednesday, 20 August 1980
Page: 562


Mr Humphreys (GRIFFITH, QUEENSLAND) asked the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 2 April 1980: (1)Has his attention been drawn to reports of recent research findings relating to the medical substrate Laetrile B-17 (Amygdalin) by Professor Harold Manners, Professor of Biology, at the University of Chicago, U.S.A.

(2)   Can he state under which conditions the administration of Laetrile B-17 by legally qualified medical practitioners is non-toxic and efficacious to terminal cancer patients.

(3)   Will he have the Australian Drug Evaluation Committee carry out a re-assessment of Amygdalin in the light of Professor Manners' findings.

(4)   Will he give urgent consideration to the removal of Laetrile B-17 (Amygdalin) from the list of restricted drugs; if not, will he ensure that when the Director-General of Health gives discretionary approval to the use of Laetrile B-l 7 on humanitarian grounds, (a) sufficient quantities of this substance will be made available as will conform with a particular patient's treatment plan and (b) that supplies will be readily available.


Mr MacKellar (WARRINGAH, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister Assisting the Prime Minister) - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   I am aware of a report by Dr Harold W. Manner and others of the Department of Biology at Loyola University of Chicago.

(2)   In view of the significant number of fatalities attributed to the accidental ingestion of Laetrile, the lack of clinical response to its use reported in Australia and the findings of the Australian Drug Evaluation Committee, I am unable to state the conditions under which the administration of this substance could be classed as being non-toxic and efficacious to terminal cancer patients.

(3)   I do not propose to have the Australian Drug Evaluation Committee carry out a re-assessment of Amygdalin based on Dr Manner's findings as they do not add to the data already evaluated by my Department and considered by the Committee.

(4)   In light of the above I do not propose making any change to the present policy which allows the importation of Laetrile on humanitarian grounds by individual patients subject to certain conditions. Where such approvals are granted the quantities approved are in accordance with the request made by the patient and his/her doctor. Provided all the required information is submitted there is no delay in the issue of permits to enable importation to be effected.







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