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Drug Therapy

Volume 978: debated on Wednesday 13 February 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if, in the light of his policy of reducing waste in the National Health Service, he will make a statement on the Royal Commission on the Health Service's recommendation to limit the drugs available for prescribing without unduly interfering with a practitioner's ease of availability of all essential varieties of drug therapy.

Whilst I am continuing to study ways of encouraging effective and economical prescribing, I am not yet persuaded that a limited list would of itself achieve lasting economies in the cost of the National Health Service or necessarily be in the best interests of patients. In the few countries which operate such an arrangement, there does not appear to be conclusive evidence whether such savings as it yields are commensurate with the practical difficulties that there would be in introducing and maintaining it, notably in reaching agreement on what drugs were essential.