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Pharmaceutical Industry

Volume 893: debated on Friday 13 June 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if she will take steps to implement the recommendations of the Sainsbury Report on the Drug Industry.

The Sainsbury Report was published in 1967 and action on some of its recommendations was taken shortly after publication. In relation to those recommendations which referred to prices and profits in the industry a revised voluntary price regulation scheme based on annual financial returns was renegotiated in 1969. Discussions on many of these matters are now taking place in the industry as set out in my reply to my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Abertillery (Mr. Thomas) on 21st November 1974—[Vol. 881, c. 518.]—and reflect the Government's wish to make a substantial cut in the current cost of sales promotion. Those matters which related to patents were referred to the Banks Committee; the Government's proposals arising from that committee's report have recently been published (Cmnd. 6000) and are also being discussed with the industry.Those recommendations which dealt with the licensing of medicines are covered by the provisions of the Medicines Act 1968 which came into operation in 1971 in relation to products marketed after 1st

September 1971. The committee also recommended that the full licensing procedure should be applied to existing products, and I recently announced, in my reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Test (Mr. Gould) on 14th May—[Vol. 892, c.

116–7.]—the initiation of a programme to review all existing medicinal products by reference to the criteria of safety, quality and efficacy.

The committee's recommendations about the content of advertising have in part been implemented by the enactment of the Medicines Act and in particular by the introduction of the system of data sheets. As I also announced in my reply to my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Abertillery on 21st November 1974 the commission was asked to report on the question of the control of the content of advertising and of information to doctors; the matters considered by the commission include a number of topics dealt with in the Sainsbury Committee's Report. In the light of the commission's advice I have put a series of detailed proposals to the industry which are currently being discussed.