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Drugs: Licensing

Volume 457: debated on Wednesday 7 March 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what assessment she has made of the recently published consultation paper from the Government of Guernsey on the regulation of medicines; what response she plans to make to that consultation; and if she will press the Guernsey authorities to end the trade in marketing unlicensed medicines to UK mainland consumers; (122304)

(2) what resources the (a) Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency and (b) Food Standards Agency have available to deploy in relation to the export to UK mainland consumers of unlicensed medicines and illegal food supplements by companies based in the Channel Islands; and what recent assessment she has made of the adequacy of the level of enforcement action by those agencies.

The legislation administered by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, an Executive agency of the Department, does not apply to the Channel Islands. The Islands have their own legislative assemblies. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency is currently considering the consultation paper from the Government of Guernsey and no response has yet been formulated. The deadline for comments is 10 April 2007. The consultation will be used as part of the ongoing dialogue between the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency and the Guernsey authorities to control the marketing of illegal products.

Reports of illegal medicinal products made to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency are investigated by the Medicines Borderline Section and/or the Enforcement and Intelligence Unit depending on the type of offence and regardless of the country of origin. These activities are reviewed through the agency’s management structure. If the company is outside the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency’s jurisdiction, it is referred to the relevant regulatory authority.

I am advised by the Food Standards Agency that local authorities have responsibility for enforcing the requirements of food law and have resources to control all foods. The Food Standards Agency does not maintain a central record of such resources. The Food Standards Agency assesses the adequacy of local authority controls through its audit programme.