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Tuesday, 15 May 1973
Page: 2161

Mr Mathews asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:

(1)   How many women were using oral contraceptives in each of the last 5 years and what percentage was this number of all women aged 18 to 45 years at 31st December of the year in question.

(2)   How many women does he expect to be using oral contraceptives on 31st December 1973 and what percentage is this number of all women who will be aged 18 to 45 years on that date.

(3)   What is the cost of a month's supply of prescribed oral contraceptives to women who buy (a) monthly, (b) every 2 months and (c) every 6 months and what was the cost in each case a year ago.

(4)   What does he expect to be the cost of exempting oral contraceptives from sales lax in a full year.

(5)   What does he expect to be the cost of making available oral contraceptives as a pharmaceutical benefit in a full year.

Dr Everingham (CAPRICORNIA, QUEENSLAND) (Minister for Health) - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   Statistics relating to the number of women using oral contraceptives in each of the last 5 years are not available. It has been estimated, on the basis of information gathered by my Department, that prior to the listing of oral contraceptives as a benefit on 1st February, 1973, between 725,000 and 750,000 women were using them and this is estimated to represent approximately 30 per cent of the population of those aged 18 to 45 years at 31st December 1972.

(2)   It is estimated by my Department that about 1,000,000 women will be using oral contraceptives at 31st December, 1973, and that this will represent approximately 40 per cent of all women who will be aged 18 to 45 years at that date.

(3)   (a) To a woman who buys monthly, the cost of a month's supply of oral contraceptives is one dollar, where the prescription was written after 1st February, 1973. The cost of a month's supply a year ago was \$1.99*, if purchased monthly.

(b)   To a woman who buys every two-months, the cost of a month's supply of oral contraceptives is either:

(i)   fifty cents if the prescription was written after 1st April 1973; or

(ii)   one dollar if the prescription was written between 1st February, 1973 and 1st April, 1973.

The cost of a month's supply a year ago was \$1.79* if purchased every 2 months.

(c)   Six months' supply would not normally be obtained at the same time. As from 1st April 1973, oral contraceptives can be prescribed on the basis of 2 cycles' supply on the original prescription, which may also cover 2 further repeat supplies, each for two cycles. Repeat supplies may only be supplied at the same time as the original under special provisions which would apply in relatively few instances in the case of oral contraceptives.

The cost of a month's supply a year ago was \$1.37* if purchased every six months.

* The costs for one year ago are based on the average cost of a month's supply of oral contraceptives available at that time, and on the assumption that supplies were made at prices recommended by the Pharmacy Guild of Australia.

(4)   On the basis of 725,000-750,000 women using oral contraceptives, my Department has estimated that revenue from sales tax under pre-benefit arrangements would have been in the vicinity of \$2m for the period of 12 months preceding the existing arrangements.

(5)   On the basis of 1,000,000 women, it is estimated that the cost to the government of making oral contraceptives available as a pharmaceutical benefit for a full year will be of the order of \$8.4m.