HC Deb 26 October 1976 vol 918 cc251-2
2. Mrs. Chalker

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will make a statement on the future sales of analgesics.

The Minister of State, Department of Health and Social Security (Mr. Roland Moyle)

The Medicines Commission has advised that there will be no need to prohibit the sale by self-service methods of preparations containing analgesics when Part III of the Medicines Act 1968 is implemented, provided that the preparations are in child-resistant containers or strip-packaging and are in packs containing not more than 25 tablets. We are now considering this advice.

Mrs. Chalker

Will the Minister accept that analgesics sold through self-service outlets should be sold only at points of supervision, so that children are not able to purchase them in any quantity in a granny-proof rather than a child-proof container?

Mr. Moyle

That view has been put to me by the Proprietary Association of Great Britain. It is one of the views I am considering.

Mr. McNamara

Is my hon. Friend aware that people employed in the industry—not least the workers who are members of my union—are pleased with the decision he has made? Industry and the unions would be less averse to the selling of these products if there were no possibility of their falling into the wrong hands or being used for suicide. Will my hon. Friend ensure that the regulations cover all the objections that have been made to self-service sales of analgesics?

Mr. Moyle

I thank my hon. Friend for what he has said. The House will now realise why I am considering the advice carefully.

Mr. Thompson

Will the Minister bear in mind the remote areas, where people often buy the simpler analgesics from the grocer or the post office? If analgesics have to be sold in small quan- tities, extra cost will be incurred by consumers because of the smaller quantity involved, in addition to the extra cost which people who live in remote areas have to bear anyway.

Mr. Moyle

The interest of people who live in rural areas is a point which I shall bear in mind.

Mr. Christopher Price

Is my hon. Friend aware that there is very strong feeling on this side of the House about the pressure exerted by drug companies to allow sales in supermarkets? Is he aware that many of my hon. Friends do not think that drugs should be treated like sweets and believe that they should be sold over the counter properly?

Mr. Moyle

That point of view has been put to me already by the Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain. It wishes to ensure that proper public education takes place about the manner in which medicines are handled. I shall be taking that into account as well.