HC Deb 02 August 1951 vol 491 cc1611-3
38. Mr. Wakefield

asked the Minister of Health why the import of cortisone on private account is forbidden.

Mr. Marquand

Such imports are not recommended because my Department is already importing the maximum quantity of this drug obtainable from the U.S.A. and distributing it for clinical research and for hospital treatment of cases which, on medical grounds, are most in need. Private imports would make it difficult for me to expand, or even to maintain, these arrangements.

I must emphasise that, like A.C.T.H., cortisone is still experimental and requires careful, continual biochemical investigation of the patient during treatment. For this reason, it is inadvisable to treat patients away from hospital and laboratory facilities. Carelessness in the use of the drug and omission of these precautions can have serious and unpredictable results. A longer period of experimental investigation is, therefore, essential.

Mr. Wakefield

What happens in the case of a person genuinely requiring treatment by cortisone who lives in a distant part of the country, remote from a hospital where the drug is obtained? Can such a person's doctor obtain the drug and administer the treatment?

Mr. Marquand

For the reasons I have given, it is necessary that the treatment takes place in hospital. I have no doubt that there are persons who would benefit from this treatment who are not able to get it, but we are importing the maximum available and we are treating suitable cases with it. In the circumstances, I do not see that more can be done.

Mr. Jennings

Is the Minister not aware of the case of one of my constituents—a Mr. Kent, of Sheffield—who is between life and death and who requires this drug very urgently? I have appealed to the Minister, but delay is still taking place. If that man is allowed to die without some of this drug being used a very serious state of affairs will arise.

Dr. Hill

Is the Minister not aware that the statement he has made represents the general view of those engaged in this work, and that it is undesirable in the public interest to deal with this subject in relation to individual hard cases until there has been a period of examination and experiment?

Mr. Marquand

I am very grateful indeed for that supplementary question. I made a long answer purposely, because it has been so much impressed upon me by my medical advisers that we must proceed very cautiously.

42. Sir T. Moore

asked the Minister of Health whether he will encourage the establishment of a factory in this country for the production of cortisone, as he did in regard to the manufacture and production of aureomycin.

Mr. Marquand

Yes, Sir. I will certainly consider sympathetically any proposals designed to achieve this object.

Sir T. Moore

As the Minister knows, and as I have said before, despite what has been said by my distinguished Friend the hon. Member for Luton (Dr. Hill), cortisone is regarded by very able physicians as affording the only relief for arthritis. As the right hon. Gentleman has been so successful in encouraging the manufacture of aureomycin, will he not do his best to facilitate supplies and experiments as quickly as possible?

Mr. Marquand

I understand that an approach has already been made to my Department, and we are giving it all the help we can.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the hon. and gallant Member for Ayr (Sir T. Moore) is asking for the establishment of another nationalised industry?

Sir T. Moore

No. I said that it should be given encouragement.