HC Deb 21 March 1960 vol 620 cc26-7
41. Dr. Stross

asked the Minister of Health whether he has noted the recent findings that repeated intra-muscular injections, in mice or rats, of the iron-dextran complex causes sarcoma at the site of the injection; and to what extent this material is still being sold in treating human beings.

Mr. Walker-Smith

I am aware of the findings reported in the medical Press and would refer the hon. Member to my reply on 18th March to my noble Friend the Member for Hertford (Lord Balniel).

Dr. Stross

Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman realise that this particular finding, namely, that some metals, or iron, at least, may be carcinogenic in certain circumstances has come rather as a surprise to all investigators? Will the Medical Research Council do some further investigation in this matter? Further, does the Minister agree that it is extremely important that the greatest care must be taken before any new preparation is released for human needs?

Mr. Walker-Smith

The manufacturers have already decided to suspend the sale of the drug for general use pending an independent re-examination of the available evidence. I think it would be premature to comment further until that further assessment has been made.

Dr. Summerskill

Can the Minister say why the drug was withrawn on Tuesday, the day after the debate on the Supplementary Estimates on Monday, when the whole matter was ventilated and the attention of the Minister was directed to the article in the British Medical Journal? Does he recall that, in the summing-up in the last speech on that occasion, he implied that his Department justified the continued sale of this drug? Why did he not say on Monday night that he would have it withdrawn?

Mr. Walker-Smith

I never said anything about it at all. The right hon. Lady is referring to the speech of my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary. It will be within the recollection of hon. Members who were present on that occasion that, as the right hon. Lady took such an extraordinarily long time to make her speech, my hon. Friend had to compress within very narrow limits the very valuable observations which she wished to make.

Forward to