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NHS: Drugs

Volume 478: debated on Monday 23 June 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what the cost to the NHS of prescribing the drug Vioxx was in the latest period for which figures are available; (213160)

(2) if the Government will review the use of drugs produced by Merck Sharpe & Dohme Ltd;

(3) what estimate he has made of the annual cost to the NHS of treating those with health impairments resulting from the use of Vioxx;

(4) whether alternative suppliers or a suitable alternative exist for each of the drugs, or a suitable alternative supplied to the NHS by Merck, Sharpe & Dohme;

(5) how much the NHS spent on drugs supplied by Merck, Sharpe & Dohme in each of the last five years.

In 2007, the net ingredient cost of Vioxx (rofecoxib) prescription items dispensed in England was £357.001.

Of a total of 39 chemical products listed on the Prescription Cost Analysis system (PCA) as manufactured by Merck, Sharpe and Dohme and dispensed in the community, 15 had no alternative manufacturer.

The net ingredient cost of prescription items dispensed in the community and in hospitals in England, which are listed as manufactured by Merck, Sharpe and Dohme are shown in the table.

1 Source: PCA.

Net ingredient cost of products manufactured by Merck, Sharpe and Dohme

£ million

Dispensed in community

Dispensed in hospitals

Total

2003

365

28

393

2004

311

26

337

2005

228

24

252

2006

239

26

265

2007

253

29

282

Sources:

PCA

IMS Health: Hospital Pharmacy Audit

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency continuously monitors the safety of all medicines in the United Kingdom. The Department has no plans to take additional measures to review separately the use of medicines manufactured by the company. Nor has it made any estimate of the cost to the national health service of treating people whose health has been adversely affected as a result of being prescribed Vioxx.