HC Deb 16 July 1969 vol 787 cc607-8
38. Mr. Adam Hunter

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what was the cost of drugs in Scottish hospitals in the periods 1960 to 1964 and 1964 to 1968, respectively.

Mr. Millan

£6,036.907 in the four years to 31st March, 1964, and £8,046,312 in the four years to 31st March, 1968.

Mr. Hunter

Can my hon. Friend say whether the increased costs are due to higher prices or a greater amount of drugs being used? In either event or in both, does he say that this is an improvement in the quality of the National Health Service?

Mr. Millan

I certainly think improved drugs coming forward all the time mean an improvement in the quality of the service which the National Health Service is able to give to patients. Some of these increases, of course, arise from increases in costs, but others for the other reasons mentioned by my hon. Friend.

Mr. William Hamilton

Will my hon. Friend say whether there is any machinery in the Scottish Health Department to supervise and inquire into the profit margins of the firms supplying the drugs?

Mr. Millan

There is, of course, machinery on a United Kingdom basis for looking into drug costs generally both in the hospital service and in the general practitioner service. This was dealt with at considerable length in the Sainsbury Report and in the reply which the then Minister of Health gave on behalf of both Departments in response to the recommendations of that report.

Mr. Woodburn

Is my hon. Friend aware that increase in the cost of drugs is not always a waste as general practitioners are often able to treat their patients at home with new drugs and thus save the expense of sending patients to hospital?

Mr. Millan

I certainly agree that not all increased expenditure on drugs is by any means a waste. On the other hand, we want to keep drug costs down to a reasonable amount and we do not want to see excessive prescribing of drugs or the wasted use of drugs.