A trip back to 1970


Is the ‘honeymoon’ over for medicine advertising of ‘open sellers’, AJP was asking in September 1970 as the Guild debated a move to Canberra

A Senate hearing in 1970 heard complaints from pharmacists from all six states concerned about the advertising of ‘open seller’ medicines. 

Advertising of open selling analgesics was specifically highlighted as an issue. 

According to the September 1970 AJP editorial: “It seems probable that when the Senate Select Committee into Drug Trafficking and Abuse tables its report in Parliament, it will recommend tighter restrictions on drug advertising”.

“It has now heard pharmacists (and others) in all six States call for varying degrees
of control—even including total bans. To the Senators—and, when their report is tabled, their Parliamentary colleagues— it may seem significant that pharmacists have voiced such concern; chemists might be expected to have a vested interest in the continuation of drug advertising,” the editorial said.

“To thoughtful pharmacists and responsible manufacturers, it may seem that the criticism heaped on advertising has to some large extent been invited by the promoters of open-selling analgesics.

Their actions in the past have been, on occasion, quite irresponsible, and even now they show an apparent inability to exercise professional self-restraint.

After all, the supermarket barons are hardly qualified to assess the therapeutic distinction between an analgesic, say, and a medicated shampoo. Their vast staffs, “gimmicks men” and advertising agencies are obviously less well-endowed”.

However, the editorial advised that “restriction to pharmacy in the main (allowing for reasonable controlled distribution elsewhere) would be more in line with public welfare than unduly harsh restrictions on sensible advertising”.

“Either way, it appears that the open-sellers’ honeymoon may soon be over”.

Also in the September 1970 issue:

*Pressure was mounting within the Guild to leave its Melbourne base and move to Canberra, or “give Sydney a turn”.

The Guild sold a block of land in St. Kilda Rd, Melbourne, for $325,000. The site had been purchased years before for a new Federal headquarters building.

“However, the present Federal building in Saint Francis St., Melbourne, could not be sold for a satisfactory price, due to City Council plans to demolish all buildings in the area for large-scale redevelopment”.

“Federal Council is entertaining doubts about the political wisdom of perpetuating Melbourne as the
place for Federal office—and pressures have mounted from those favoring Canberra or “giving Sydney a turn”.

*The “possible collapse of orderly marketing and price maintenance in pharmacy” was predicted following a decision by Friendly Society dispensaries in South Australia to join those in other States with 15 per cent reductions on all OTC product lines.

A possible national confrontation with the Pharmacy Guild was also predicted.

“As soon as Guild officers heard of the cutting plans, they began steps to lodge strong requests with Chemist-Only manufacturers. The Guild wants the C-O firms to act against dispensaries which undercut
Guild pharmacies on C-O lines”.

Click the image below to read some of the articles in the issue:

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