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Volume 645: debated on Monday 24 July 1961

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asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware of the increasing control of the British drug industry by United States firms; what proportion of the National Health Service drug bill is paid to United States controlled firms; and what action he proposes to take to limit the amount of drugs purchased from such firms.

The answer to the first and third parts of the Question is in the negative; I regret that the information asked for in the second part is not available.

Does the Minister agree that some of the American firms have been responsible for the high-pressure type of salesmanship which seems to have led to a waste in drugs? Have any representations been made to them to cease some of these practices so that we can get greater economy in the drug bill?

I am anxious by any means to ensure that the National Health Service gets the drugs it needs on the best possible terms, but I do not think that that would be done by discriminating against one set of firms as such. The Association of British Pharmaceutical Industry has taken some quite successful steps in recent years to increase the standards of sales promotion in some quarters.