HC Deb 23 October 1950 vol 478 cc2483-5
50. Mr. Edward Evans

asked the Lord President of the Council what steps are being taken by the Medical Research Council and other bodies to make available for sufferers from rheumatoid arthritis the drug cortisone, now being produced in the United States of America; and whether adequate funds to develop this research are, and will continue, to be made available to these bodies.

Mr. H. Morrison

An extensive programme of co-ordinated research on cortisone and related substances is being carried out under the auspices of the Medical Research Council and other bodies; I understand that adequate funds are available to develop the work. The question of providing cortisone for the routine treatment of patients is outside the Council's province, but I am advised that much more research is necessary before cortisone could safely be recommended for general use in rheumatoid arthritis.

Mr. Evans

Is my right hon. Friend aware of the intense anxiety of sufferers from this dread disease, and their friends, and will he do everything to encourage research and see that plenty of money is available for this very vital need?

Mr. Morrison

I am aware of the point to which my hon. Friend has drawn attention. I am sure that we have all great sympathy with the sufferers from this trouble, and I can assure my hon. Friend that I will give sympathetic consideration to anything we can do on the lines of what we are doing or additionally.

Group Captain Wilcock

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the treatment of this disease by cortisone is very much in the experimental stage, and is proving to have serious effects on patients, particularly women? In view of that fact will my right hon. Friend assure the House that this drug will not yet be made available to the public?

Mr. Morrison

There is real point in what my hon. and gallant Friend has just said. It is certainly an important consideration which we must keep in mind.

Mr. Blackburn

Is it a fact that, as reported, cortisone is being made available at drug stores in the United States next month? Will the Lord President make sure that the Medical Research Council keeps in touch with America on this subject.

Mr. Morrison

Yes, there is no doubt about that. I do not know whether it is being made available in drug stores in the United States, but it does not follow that it should be made available here.