HC Deb 22 July 1968 vol 769 cc31-2
43. Mr. Pavitt

asked the Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity what machinery exists for consultation between her Department and the Ministry of Health to restrain increases in the prices of pharmaceutical products.

Mr. Harold Walker

Full use is made of the normal machinery for consultation between Departments.

Mr. Pavitt

Is my hon. Friend aware that there have been very large increases recently which are excused by the pharmaceutical industry on the plea that the Ministry of Health has granted them? Is he aware that a 10 per cent. increase in the price of insulin has passed through? Is there some way in which he can bring prices down?

Mr. Walker

The price of insulin is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health, and I understand that my hon. Friend has a Question on the Order Paper to him. My hon. Friend will know that there is in existence a voluntary price regulation scheme, which is under consideration by my right hon. Friend in the light of the Sainsbury Committee's Report, and on which negotiations will shortly be taking place.

Mr. R. Carr

Can the hon. Gentleman confirm that the increase in price was vetted and, therefore, thought to be correct?

Mr. Walker

Indeed, Sir. Any price increases on pharmaceutical products prescribed by pharmacists are subjected to the voluntary price regulation scheme, which obliges the companies concerned to submit their price increases for consideration by my right hon. Friend, who has to be satisfied that the increases are necessary and justified, and also has to take into consideration the Government's prices policy.