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Wednesday, 30 April 1980
Page: 2008

Senator PUPLICK (New South Wales) - I wish to address my remarks to the second of the Bills which we are debating cognately this evening, namely the Bounty (Penicillin) Bill 1980. 1 think it is often not realised that in 1928 one of the great revolutions of all time occurred with the discovery of the potential of penicillin in a quite casual way in the United Kingdom by Alexander Fleming. One of the famous stories of medical research, indeed of research in general, is the accidental discovery of the properties of penicillin and the way in which it came to be developed. That discovery in 1928 marked a revolution in the history of the medical treatment of mankind. As is so typical of many great discoveries it waited for another ten years until Florey and Chain in 1 938 started the commercial development and the more detailed scientific explanation of the properties of penicillin.

In many ways penicillin is the first of the wonder drugs. The sort of disease bacteria sensitive to penicillin range from infections of the throat, pneumonia, spinal meningitis, gas gangrene and diphtheria to most of the venereal diseases. Treatment of these diseases, particularly those that reached epidemic proportions, indicates the importance of penicillin not only in medical science but also in the development of national health programs. It is important in the sort of strategies that governments adopt from national health and defence points of view when they are considering recommendations which are made to them by the Industries Assistance Commission, and when they go out of their way to overturn the decisions that the IAC has put to them. The production of bulk antibiotics and of penicillin in particular, is something that has been occurring in this country for a prolonged period. The Commonwealth Serum Laboratories, as I understand, commenced production of penicillin in 1943.

Debate interrupted.

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