1945: Peace and the PBS

Pharmacy leaders welcomed the end of World War II in our August 1945 issue, but a war of words was building over the government’s Pharmaceutical Benefits bill

Pharmacy leaders expressed relief and thanks for the end of World War 2 in the August 1945 edition of AJP.

The war in the Pacific ended with the surrender of Japan on 12 August, a few weeks before the issue went to print.

FP Gulley, President of the Pharmaceutical Association of Australia and New Zealand wrote: “We thank God that the wars which have caused so many disasters, and so much sorrow, anxiety and difficulties, are now over. To our colleagues and friends whose loved ones have given their lives for our Liberty and Freedom, we extend our sincere sympathy and loving thoughts”.

ALW Jones, Chairman of Directors, Australasian Pharmaceutical Publishing, wrote: “After nearly six years of turmoil, unbelievable strife, suffering, and almost total destruction, such as the world has never known before, it is natural that the news of Japan’s surrender brought forth such scenes of national rejoicing and thanksgiving”.

“Now the fighting is finished and the problems of Peace are upon us. These will demand sacrifices and unceasing efforts if they are to be resolved as successfully as our war efforts”.

There was conflict of a different sort looming over the Federal government’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Act [ed: the foundation act of our PBS], with opposition growing from doctor’s groups.

The AJP report said “negotiations with the Federal Government in connection with the Pharmaceutical Benefits Act have been overshadowed by two significant developments during the month”:

1) Introduction in the Senate of an Amending Bill to limit participation by friendly society dispensaries to the number of dispensaries and branches operating on August 1, 1945; and

2) the issue of a High Court writ by the Victorian Attorney-General, joining office-bearers of the Medical Society of Victoria as relators, seeking a declaration that the Act is invalid.

The Victorian government contended that the provisions of the Constitution “do not authorise the enactment by the Parliament of the Commonwealth of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Act, or the appropriation of public money for the purposes of the Act”.

“Progress of the case will be watched with intense interest, not only because of the Constitutional aspects, but also on account of the direct importance of the High Court’s decision on the future of pharmaceutical and medical practice,” the AJP report stated.

An amendment to the Act had been agreed that medical practitioners could prescribe under special circumstances without the need of a personal examination.

“This amendment had been necessitated by the expressed fears of the medical profession that, in a case of emergency, a medical practitioner would not be able to prescribe until he first personally examined
the patient. This was never intended”.

Another report highlighted an “example of co-operation between legislators and professional groups in planning social benefits… from Saskatchewan Province of Canada, where the Government recently asked the Pharmaceutical Association to join with the medical profession in the preparation of a suitable formulary for a pharmaceutical benefits scheme.

This followed a number of meetings between representatives of the Government and of the Pharmaceutical Association”.

Meanwhile, there was debate over the future training needs of apprentices in pharmacy.

“The future of pharmacy is vitally linked to the training of apprentices in the pharmacy,” the report said.

“There they should receive instruction and experience under conditions of actual practice, which cannot be reproduced in the college or university in which they receive their professional training. Shop experience, therefore, is of the greatest importance, and, under perfect organisation, should be controlled
as stringently as the academic studies”.

“The decision of the British Society to institute a system of ‘approved’ pharmacies for the training of apprentices is a bold one—in the right direction—and should be productive of better-trained apprentices. The wisdom of this action cannot be questioned”.




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