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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 6 Hansard (14 May) . . Page.. 1538 ..

MS DUNDAS (continuing):

Taken together, those conditions are a regime that will help limit the prescription of amphetamines. Such prescriptions cannot be for more than two months, and the doctor has to believe the patient is suffering from narcolepsy or ADHD and the doctor has to believe they are not drug dependent or have been on these drugs for more than two months. These conditions come as a group in this legislation.

The amendment, which takes us back to the current age limit, is not one I can support. We do need to look at overprescription for ADHD among younger members of our community. ADHD is a condition that exists across a broad age group. If we are prescribing drugs to help fix it, we should be applying the legislation in the same way across all ages. Nineteen is not a magic point in people's growth, in their mental health or in the way their body accepts or deals with drugs. People are different across all ages. Doctors do many years of training so that when they make decisions about prescribing drugs they do it with the individual person in mind.

While I am very interested in looking at the problems of overprescription, especially for ADHD, and eagerly anticipate the results of any Health Committee inquiry, I cannot support this amendment.

MS TUCKER (11.47): I want to respond to one thing Ms Dundas said. Everyone appears to agree that there are some issues about the prescription of medication for children. I am concerned that, if we agree, we need to get a stronger regulatory framework or at least see whether there is some need for that. Why are we at this point prepared to loosen what regulatory framework we have for an age group which has quite specific issues?

Mr Stanhope said there is no clinical reason. The arguments I put up were social arguments about abuse of drugs and trading of drugs. That is the point I want to stress to Ms Dundas. We are looking at a social issue related to the age group we are talking about. They are more likely to be abusing and trading. That is the anecdotal evidence we have been given in our consultations with the community sector working with substance abuse.

I am trying to introduce to the debate a precautionary approach to this social issue. Why would we change it now if everybody agrees that we need to look at it? Why would we be prepared to loosen it for the vulnerable 19-year-old age group? We have an MPI today on substance abuse. Everyone keeps talking about it. Yet we are loosening something we do not have to loosen. We could leave the situation as it is and do the work on it.

The arguments that have been put today do not seem logical to me. This is about acknowledging that we are looking at these issues through a substance abuse task force and through my Health Committee inquiry into the health of school-aged children. I am disappointed that we are not getting support.

Amendment negatived.

Bill, as a whole, agreed to.

Bill agreed to.

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