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Volume 894: debated on Friday 4 July 1975

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asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what information he has about the extent of the illegal sale of antibiotic drugs to farmers; and if he will take steps designed to prevent this from happening.

I have no reliable information. My Department and the Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain receive reports from time to time alleging that antibiotics are being sold illegally to farmers—i.e., without veterinary prescription, in contravention of the provisions of the Therapeutic Substances Act 1956. Comparatively few of these reports are sufficiently precise to enable the Inspectors of the Pharmaceutical Society, who have certain powers of enforcement under that Act, to pursue them. Where sufficient details are provided the inspectors do, of course, promptly follow up the allegations, and I am pleased to say that in the last two years they were successful in 14 prosecutions. Enforcement powers will be strengthened when the present provisions under the Therapeutic Substances Act are replaced by retail sale provisions under Part III of the Medicines Act 1968.