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Wednesday, 23 April 1980
Page: 1798

Senator Dame Margaret Guilfoyle - On 6

March 1980 (Hansard, page 620) Senator Mason asked me, as Minister representing the Minister for Health, a question without notice concerning the safe use of valium by children. The Minister for Health has provided the following information:

The honourable senator's attention is drawn to the answer to his earlier question which was published in Hansard on 26 September 1979 at page 1020. That reply stated that it is for the medical practitioner to assess the patient 's condition and determine whether Valium syrup is indicated. It is not the normal practice of my Department to conduct surveys which include reasons and justification for the prescription by registered medical practitioners of unrestricted pharmaceutiabenefits.

This situation still prevails. Valium has been proven to be a safe and effective drug when used correctly. It is the responsibility of the individual medical practitioner to satisfy himself that valium is indicated for use in the first instance and secondly to ensure that the parents of the child arc aware of the possible side effects and problems which may arise resulting from overuse of the drug.

Insofar as congenital malformations are concerned, several published studies have raised the possibility that the use of certain tranquillisers in early pregnancy may increase the incidence of binh defects. Such a proposition is not proven.

The Australian product information for valium includes a statement that the use of the medication during the first hair of pregnancy is not recommended.

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