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Volume 480: debated on Thursday 9 November 1950

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asked the Minister of Health, in view of the difficulties of National Health Service doctors in resisting the demands of patients for prescriptions for medicinal preparations advertised direct to the public, what steps he proposes to take to deal with this matter.

Yes, Sir. Responsibility for prescribing should rest solely on the judgment of the doctor. Sir Henry Cohen's Committee on Prescribing therefore recommended that publicly advertised preparations should not be prescribed under the National Health Service. This recommendation has been sent to all doctors, who have been asked to observe it, and any doctor who refuses importunate demands has my full support.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is a section of the medical profession that has been organised to collect funds to resist the Health Service; and would he appeal to them to divert these funds towards the education of the medical profession in the direction which he has just outlined?

From the preliminary information at our disposal, I believe that the recommendation of the Sir Henry Cohen's Committee is being carried out generally. I would not like to believe that the doctors require any further education, but if they do require it, we shall, of course, consider what we have to do.

Is it a fact that, so far, less than 1 per cent. of prescriptions have been for nationally advertised medicines?

No, and if the hon. and learned Gentleman has got that information, and if he would give me its source, I shall be delighted, because I have not got such precise information myself.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that many doctors are greatly perturbed at the wide latitude allowed to them for over-prescribing, and that many are protesting and asking that the old procedure, whereby prescriptions were properly scrutinised, should be reintroduced?

Could the right hon. Gentleman say what, in his opinion, is the figure, if he questions mine?

If the hon. and learned Gentleman puts a question on the Order Paper, I will try to give him the information.