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Wednesday, 14 May 1980
Page: 2258


Senator Dame Margaret Guilfoyle - On 5 March 1980 (Hansard, pages 548-9) Senator Messner asked me, as Minister representing the Minister for Health, a question without notice concerning a colour coded labelling system for drugs which could react adversely when taken with alcohol. The Minister for Health has provided the following information:

The National Therapeutic Goods Committee makes recommendations to the Commonwealth and the States on controls on therapeutic goods, including the labelling of drugs. This Committee has considered various proposals relating to the labelling of drugs including colour coding and has rejected them.

However, at my request, the Committee recently reconsidered the feasibility and practicability of introducing a colour coded labelling system for those drugs which could react with alcohol, as advocated by the Australian Automobile Association ( A.A.A.)

The Committee has again rejected the proposal, basically because it considers that it is imperative that people rely on the written content of labels and not on symbols such as colours. I understand that A.A.A. has itself considerably modified its original proposal and has set up a working party to examine the matter further.

The honourable senator may be interested to know that there is in operation a voluntary labelling scheme whereby pharmacists apply a warning label to dispensed drugs which interact with alcohol. The warning reads-

This medicine may cause drowsiness and may increase the effects of alcohol. If affected do not drive a motor vehicle or operate machinery.







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