HC Deb 01 February 1960 vol 616 cc630-1
52 and 53. Dr. Summerskill

asked the Minister of Health (1) what action he proposes to take regarding the recommendation in the Interim Report of the Inter-Departmental Committee on Drug Addiction, that any drug or pharmaceutical preparation which has an action on the central nervous system and is liable to produce physical or psychological deterioration, should be confined to supply on prescription; and

(2) whether he now proposes to prohibit the sale, without medical prescription, of preludin.

The Minister of Health (Mr. Derek Walker-Smith)

As I explained in my reply on 7th December, 1959, to the hon. Members for Swindon (Mr. F. Noel-Baker) and Barking (Mr. Driberg), my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department, as an interim and urgent measure, has asked the Poisons Board to advise him which of the substances referred to by the Interdepartmental Committee should be limited to supply on prescription, under the Pharmacy and Poisons Act, 1933. I understand from my right hon. Friend that the Poisons Board has held a special meeting to consider the matter and that he expects its report very shortly.

Dr. Summerskill

May I remind the Minister that the whole question of the administration and consumption of this dangerous drug, preludin, was considered in this House a year ago after comments had been made in a coroner's court? Since then, there have been other fatalities. Could he not at least prohibit the sale of this drug without medical prescription? Will he read the report on the drug industry by a sub-committee of the Senate in the United States? In view of the fact that American firms are making such headway in this country, should we not take warning from the revelations which were made to the Senate last week?

Mr. Walker-Smith

The question of this drug can be dealt with only under the procedure of the Pharmacy and Poisons Act, 1933. An interim report by the Inter-Departmental Committee was received on 21st January; the Poisons Board has already met, and my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary will be very shortly making his statement in regard to action.

Mr. Snow

Following the second part of the question asked by my right hon. Friend about the sub-committee of the Monopolies Committee of the Senate, will the Minister take particular action because companies subject to that investigation in America have parallel activities over here by virtue of their branch companies, and the position is getting very serious?

Mr. Walker-Smith

That raises rather wider questions than are implicit in the Question I have answered, but I shall certainly consider the points made by the hon. Member.