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Pharmacy was getting bad press due to some convictions for supplying cocaine, while there was concern about out of date poisons legislation in the July 1920 edition of the Australasian Journal of Pharmacy

Concerns were being raised about a number of Australian states having out of date poisons legislation in the AJPs July 1920 issue. There were also claims of the profession receiving poor press coverage following a police sting which saw four pharmacists convicted of supplying cocaine to a police agent. 

Codeine convictions

Four Victorian pharmacists “have reason to regret that they were persuaded to sell cocaine to a police agent contrary to the provisions of the Poisons Act and Regulations,” a report said. The pharmacists suffered a “monetary penalty and some loss of repute”.

“Unfortunately it is derelictions of duty such as these that make necessary irksome restrictions,” the report said.

“It is to be hoped that the salutary fines that have been imposed in these cases will act as a warning should there be others who are tempted to accept a class of business which is illegal and in many cases immoral”.

Some aspects of the cases were questioned in a more in-depth report, which also highlighted they had led to negative coverage of the profession in the press.

“Some of the circumstances, however, surrounding the recent prosecutions are not altogether in
keeping with the commonly accepted idea of what is known as British fair play,” the article claimed.

“The newspapers also unjustly made use of the incident to cast a slur upon pharmacists generally”.

Poison acts out of date

Meanwhile, the issue’s editorial looked at the state of posions legilsation around the nation “Conditions are constantly changing, and legislation passed twenty or thirty years ago obviously becomes out of date, and requires amending from time to time,” wrote then AJP editor Mr CL Butchers.

“Queensland and Tasmania are more happily situated in this respect than some of the other parts of the Commonwealth, inasmuch as the Poisons Acts and Regulations in force in those States are more recent, and representative of the desire of the public to be adequately protected.

“In New South Wales the Poisons Act is obsolete and ineffective, but there is every reason to hope that an amending Bill will be shortly brought forward. South Australia has a set of regulations, but little effort appears to be made to enforce them. They certainly would be all the better for a complete overhauling,” the article continued.

“Victoria has a fairly workable Act, mainly because Parliament from time to time has accepted the various amendments proposed by the Pharmacy Board. The Western Australian Pharmacy and Poisons Act is
admittedly much behind the times”.

“Some months ago we showed from figures supplied by the Commonwealth Statistician that effective poisons legislation had a restraining influence on the number of fatal poisoning cases,” it said. “Figures such as these should carry weight with the Government”.

Pharmacists “are a trained body of men, possessing an intimate knowledge of poisons and their dangers,” the article said, adding it was “most important to the community that the distribution of deadly substances should be confined to them.


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