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Tuesday, 13 November 1973
Page: 1748

Senator Townley (TASMANIA) asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice:

(1)   Why was Synacthen removed from the Commonwealth list of drugs that doctors may prescribe.

(2)   Will the Minister consider again allowing doctors to prescribe the drug under the National Health and Pensioner Medical Service Schemes.

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Minister for Health has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1)   and (2) Synacthen has not been removed from the list of pharmaceutical benefits. Synacthen is the Ciba-Geigy proprietary name of the drug tetracosactrin. This drug is currently available as a pharmaceutical benefit, on the authority of my Department's Director of Health in each State and Territory, for the treatment of hypsarrhythmia and for patients who are being withdrawn from long-term corticosteroid therapy.

Tetracosactrin was transferred from an unrestricted listing to its present restricted listing on 1 December 1972 at the recommendation of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee, an expert committee established under the National Health Act to advise me, as Minister for Health, on matters concerning the listing of drugs as pharmaceutical benefits. In formulating this recommendation the Committee took into account several representations from specialist medical bodies concerning wide-spread, imprudent prescribing of tetracosactrin. The Committee also obtained expert opinion from a number of eminent specialist endocrinologists.

The listing of tetracosactrin will remain under review by the Committee which, in relation to this matter, will continue to consult with relevant specialist medical Colleges and Societies. In accordance with a recent recommendation by the Committee, tetracosactrin will also be available as a benefit, as from I December 1973, with the authority of the relevant Director of Health, for the treatment of-

(   i ) acute exacerbations of multiple sclerosis;

(ii)   severe asthma in children where there is evidence of growth suppression produced by corticosteroids; and

(iii)   status asthmaticus

National Anthem (Question No. SIO)

Senator Byrne (QUEENSLAND) asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:

(   1 ) Is it a fact, as claimed in 'The Australian' of 1 8 October 1973, that the 'Prime Minister, Mr Whitlam, is using his visit to China to push Advance Australia Fair as our new arnhem' and that 'he's already sent word to the Chinese Government that he does not want God Save the Queen played on official occasions. He has asked for Advance Australia Fair when anthems are played'.

(2)   Does the Prime Minister consider that the release of the information, on the day on which Her Majesty the Queen is attending an official luncheon at Parliament House, is at least a grave breach of good taste.

(3)   Who was responsible for the unfortunate timing of the release of the Prime Minister's statement.

Senator Murphy - The Prime Minister has provided the following information for reply to the honourable senator's question:

(   1 ) The report in 'The Australian ' of 1 8 October 1 973 that I would be using the visit to China to press the claims of Advance Australia Fair as our new national anthem was not correct. I did, however, ask that Advance Australia Fair be played when anthems were played during my visit to China.

(2)   and (3) No Prime Ministerial statement has been issued concerning the use of Advance Australia Fair during my visit to China.

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