Pharmacy in the headlines

October 1970: Pharmacy is facing a “huge inquiry”, while the Guild takes to the TV screens to promote a new cosmetics campaign

The headline story in the October 1970 edition of the AJP was the announcement that the “most exhaustive inquiry ever held into pharmacy costs and profits has been ordered by the House of Representatives in Canberra”.

“A select committee of the House— comprising both Labor and Liberal Parliamentarians—will undertake a full-scale review of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme,” the article said.

The inquiry, proposed by the Federal Health Minister, Dr. Forbes, was agreed to by the House of Representatives after disclosure of substantial increases in the cost of running the PBS”.

In figures that would cause current bureaucrats to salivate with delight, the government of the day said it expected the Scheme “to cost $18.4 million more this year than it did last, bringing its total cost to
$155.1 million for the year”. 

In 1961, the PBS cost $70.4 million.

Dr. Forbes’ motion was accepted by the Labor Party, whose “shadow” minister of health,  Mr [Future ALP leader Bill] Hayden, “served notice that A.L.P. members of the committee would look “closely” at the cost structure of Australia’s drug industry.

He said the committee should investigate any “restrictive practices and cartel arrangements” by pharmaceutical manufacturers if these affected the price of drugs.

Dr. R. T. Gun (Labor, SA)—a medico —said he believed the cost of most drugs to patients was “excessive”. He inferred that what he called the “advertising paper war” was partly responsible.

AJP advised its readers that there was “little reason to be alarmed” and that they shouldn’t “close ranks”.

“The worst that could happen to ‘our side’ (that includes manufacturers and wholesalers as well as pharmacists) would be some adverse publicity in newspapers which like to highlight the attack and ‘bury’ the defence,” it said.

“And there will be some misinformed, libellous attacks from people who know no better. But truth will prevail (though perhaps not in the mass media)…. We have nothing to hide—indeed we have
many positive virtues which we should even now be preparing to present in a manner which will help counteract the damage which can be expected from halfbaked, sensational press headlines.”

Pharmacy on TV

Meanwhile, the marketing team of the Victorian branch of the Pharmacy Guild took to the TV screens to present their cosmetic campaign called “The World of Beauty”.

“There’s four sub-sections: One is Skin Sensationals. The next one is Color Fiesta. The next is Fragrance Festival, and then Hair, Hair, Hair,” said branch marketing coordinator, Bruce Robinson, on the HSV-7 morning program, “Woman’s World”.

Program host, Vi Greenhall was a fan of the concept: “I’m a bit sold on this chart idea—of going in and getting a chart made up so that when you do want to buy cosmetics, you can spend wisely,” she said.

“Well, this of course is most important, because they’re trained girls and can actually do a chart, a
personal chart for your own particular needs,” said the Guild’s Sam Gandolfo in response.

“And with the variety of products we have in pharmacy we can satisfy the individual skin requirements of a particular person.”

“These charts are not designed specifically to sell the products . . . charts won’t. It’s for the woman to keep, and as she replaces her cosmetic ‘wardrobe’, she looks at her chart and she comes back into the pharmacy and she buys the next article that is needed for her make-up kit”.

The campaign was running in pharmacies across Victoria and Tasmania.



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