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Notice given 7 July 2003

1602  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister for Health and Ageing—With reference to the Pan Pharmaceuticals product recall:

(1) What prompted the Government to set up an expert committee to review complementary healthcare.

(2) Why has the Government refused to allow a representative of the Complementary Healthcare Council to be on that committee.

(3) With reference to a report that a member of the committee, Professor Alistair MacLennan, has said that the Government should not support the complementary healthcare industry: Can the Minister confirm this statement; if so, should this predisposition not rule Professor MacLennan out as a suitable, unbiased member of the committee.

(4) (a) Who on the committee has expertise in regulatory controls to meet appropriate standards of quality, safety and efficacy; and (b) can details of this expertise be provided.

(5) (a) Who on the expert committee has expertise on education, training and regulation of complementary healthcare practitioners; and (b) can details of this expertise be provided.

(6) (a) Who on the expert committee has expertise on the interaction between complementary and prescribed medicines and the communication of this information to healthcare practitioners; and (b) can details of this expertise be provided.

(7) Will consumer representation be included on the expert committee; if so, how will consumer representatives be appointed.

(8) Will the committee call for public submissions; if not, why not.

(9) By what method will the committee collect evidence.

(10) Why was the Pan Pharmaceuticals recall a Level 1 recall.

(11) (a) What other options were available; and (b) why were they not taken.

(12) Why was it that Pan Pharmaceuticals’ products other than Travacalm were recalled.

(13) For each of those products recalled, what adverse reactions were reported.

(14) Why did the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) not examine all these products before doing a total recall.

(15) Why did the TGA not inform the Complementary Healthcare Council so the industry could work with the TGA to test all products in question.

(16) Can the Minister confirm that Pan Pharmaceuticals’ largest overseas customer, Wallmart in America, is still selling Pan Pharmaceuticals’ recalled products that they have tested and found to be good quality.

(17) Can the Minister confirm that Pan Pharmaceuticals’ products are still being sold in Europe, and that in New Zealand they are being sold with approval from the New Zealand Ministry of Health.

(18) Given that the number of adverse reactions from complementary medicines was reported by the Australian Adverse Drug Reactions Advisory Committee as averaging only 23 per year compared with 400 000 in 1999-2000 for prescribed drugs, why were prescribed pharmaceuticals not included in the review.

(19) Given that, according to the Complementary Healthcare Council, sales of complementary medicines are down 20 to 40 per cent and export sales are down by $200 million, does the Government intend to compensate small retail businesses for this economic loss and the general decline in consumer confidence.

(20) What response has the Government made to the request from the Complementary Healthcare Council for funds to invest in marketing for the industry and positive statements from the Government about complementary medicines.

(21) What is the progress on the Government’s request to major distributors that claims by small businesses for refunds to consumers on recalled products should be expedited.

(22) Is the Government monitoring the financial impact of this recall on small business; if so, what is the impact; if not, why not.