HC Deb 14 March 1922 vol 151 c1993W

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that certain medical men in his Department are pressing boards of guardians to agree to the use of a new method of dealing with diphtheria which consists in testing workhouse children by means of the Schick test and inoculating those who react to the test with a preparation known as toxin antitoxin; whether qualified doctors have expressed their disapproval of the composition of the material used in the Schick test; whether the toxin antitoxin used for immunising purposes has had fatal results in several instances in America; and who is responsible for the introduction of this process, seeing that it has no scientific basis and may cause serious injury and possibly death to those subjected to it?


The answer to the first two parts of the question is in the negative. Information as to the Schick test has been published by my Department, and a number of local authorities and boards of guardians have decided to take advantage of it, but no attempt has been made by the Department to press any boards of guardians or other local authorities to adopt it. I am informed that it has been stated that there were fatal cases in Texas, but I am unaware of the cause. Such accidents are always liable to occur with any form of treatment which is not properly carried out. I have urged the importance of seeing that when the test is carried out it should be under expert supervision. This method of diagnosis has been before the medical profession since 1913, and has been successfully applied on a large scale in this and other countries. It marks a great advance in our methods of prevention and control of diphtheria.