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Cortisone moy be
scarce for a
very long time
ARTHRITIS sufferers will find it no
easier to obtain supplies of the new
drug, cortisone, even if the Fed- eral Government allows it to be imported duty free.
Melbourne doctors have been
overwhelmed with pleas for the j drug since Dr. Reg. Ellery made t
known his remarkable recovery with its aid.
But Dr. C. H. Dickson, secretary of the Victorian branch of the British Medical Association, said last night that "very little cortisone existed anywhere in the
It was very difficult to make, he said, and its manufacture involved many pro-
"It is not a question of a shortage of dollars," he said. "Even in America, which is the only country producing it, cortisone is scarce."
Officials of the Commonwealth Serum Labor- atories, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, and leading drug manufacturers with American and British affiliations, said yesterday that cortisone was not being produced synthetically in Australia.
Even if the required raw materials were readily available here the drug could not be prodeucd on a commercial basis in Australia, an official said.
"Production of cortisone is a terrifically com- plicated procedure, involving about 30 processes,"
Even if substitute materials were foujnd here from which the drug could be synthesised, pro- duction on a commercial scale would be beyond the ability of any Australian firm.
Cortisone was scarce because only one finn in: America was producing it.
The basis of cortisone was % chemical derived from ox bile, and only a small quantity of cortisone could be produced from
a vast quantity of raw material. '
A Health Department spokes- man in Canberra said last night that Dr. Ellery, who had to pay £100 Customs duty on his small quantity of cortisone, would probably haye his money back
Imports of cortisone had been made duty free, the official said, I retrospective to September 1,
and Dr. Ellery might not have followed the proper procedure.
He should apply for a refund through the Customs Depart-