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Haemophilia (Drugs)

Volume 887: debated on Thursday 6 March 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) how many units of Factor VIII have been used by the National Health Service for the treatment of haemophiliac patients in the last year for which figures are available; what is her estimate of the annual requirement of Factor VIII for such treatment; what is her estimate of the annual cost of providing sufficient Factor VIII for the treatment of haemophiliacs as and when they require it; and if she will make a statement:

(2) what assistance she is giving to regional health authorities to purchase sufficient supplies of Factor VIII; and if she will make a statement;

(3) how many units of Factor VIII are manufactured annually in the United Kingdom; how much money she has allocated to boosting production as announced in the reply to the hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham) on 22nd January; and if she will make a further statement.

As the yield of Factor VIII from blood donations varies significantly it is not possible to give the information requested in terms of units, but I am advised that it is necessary to process 375,000 blood donations annually in England and Wales for the preparation of Factor VIII, of which 275,000 donations should be for anti-haemophilic globulin (AHG) concentrate and 100,000 for cryoprecipitate. In 1974 about 64,000 donations were used to prepare AHG concentrate and approximately 221,000 to prepare cryoprecipitate.Under arrangements centrally negotiated by my Department, health authorities spent £412,000 on the purchase of commercially imported AHG concentrate between November 1973 and January 1975.It is estimated that it would cost £1·5 million to £2 million annually to purchase enough commercial AHG concentrate to supplement present NHS supplies. In deciding on the amount to be devoted to the purchase of AHG concentrate, health authorities have to take into account other demands on their limited resources which also claim priority. They are in a position to make an assessment of individual cases and to take account of the costs of not providing AHG concentrate as opposed to cryoprecipitate. These judgments are difficult enough to make locally; they are very hard to make centrally.As I told my hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby (Mr. Madden) on 17th February—[Vol. 887, c.

145–6]—I have authorised the allocation of special finance of up to £0·5 million—about half of which would be recurring—to increase the existing production of AHG concentrate within the National Health Service with the aim of the NHS becoming self-sufficient as soon as possible.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what firms are licensed to import Factor VIII; how many units they are licensed to import; how many units are currently held by each firm and by the National Health Service respectively in the United Kingdom; what is the cost of each unit; and if she will make a statement.

Two firms are licenced to supply anti-haemophilic globulin (AHG) concentrate. The licences do not limit the amount of AHG concentrate to be supplied. The amount currently held by each firm and by haemophilia centres is not known. It is not Government practice to reveal prices negotiated under central contracts.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many units of Factor VIII have been exported or re-exported in the last 12 months for which figures are available.

This information is not available: there is no requirement on the firms concerned to report figures of exports.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if she will arrange for haemophiliacs and the parents of haemophiliac children to be supplied with Factor VIII for home therapy.

The further development of home treatment, which I recognise as the preferred form of treatment in many cases, is likely to depend largely on the increased production of Factor VIII within the National Health Service.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if she will estimate the average cost of transporting a haemophiliac child to hospital after a bleed for treatment which he could adequately receive from his parents if they were supplied with Factor VIII.

The cost would depend on the individual case whether an ambulance was used or the child's parents' car, how far away the child was from the hospital, when the bleed took place and numerous other factors which make it impossible to produce a realistic figure of average costs.