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Drug Quotas

Volume 447: debated on Tuesday 20 June 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what assessment her Department has made of the effect on NHS costs of manufacturers’ quotas on medicines and drugs and restrictions on the parallel importation of drugs and medicines; (77462)

(2) what recent discussions she has had with pharmaceutical manufacturers on their quotas on the supply of medicines and drugs in England;

(3) what assessment her Department has made of the possible impact of manufacturers' quotas for the supply of medicines and drugs in England on the pharmaceutical wholesale and retail sectors.

In terms of the impact on national health service expenditure, information is not routinely collected on the source of products, but from the data currently available, the Department estimates that parallel imports save the NHS in England approximately ÂŁ60 million per year in the community sector.

Parallel importing is legal within the European Union (EU). The United Kingdom (UK) parallel import licensing scheme allows medicinal authorised products in other EU member states to be marketed in the UK provided the imported products have no therapeutic difference from the equivalent UK products.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) liaises closely with the relevant competent authorities to obtain the necessary information to ensure that only those products which fully comply with the stringent criteria for parallel import are granted a licence. This information is published at monthly intervals on the MHRA's website.

The Department has had no recent discussions with manufacturers nor made an assessment of the possible impact of quotas on the supply of medicines.