§ Mr. Linstead
asked the Minister of Health whether he can make a statement as to the availability of penicillin for the treatment of civilians, the arrangements for its distribution and the measures which are being taken to ensure its purity and potency.
§ Mr. Willink
Up to the present all official supplies of penicillin, apart from a small quantity used for clinical trials, have been reserved for the Services and air raid casualties. Production is, however, increasing to such an extent that it will shortly be possible to make some penicillin available for general civilian use and it is expected that some time next year the supplies will be sufficient to meet all requirements. During the transitional period it is essential to restrict the use of penicillin to cases in which it is likely to save life, or to be the only available means of effecting recovery from grave illness. With this object in view it has been arranged to issue the available supplies to University Medical Schools for use in their teaching hospitals and other hospitals approved by them in their areas. For the time being the issue will be made free of charge. The conditions for which penicillin should be used will be indicated in an official memorandum and suitable cases will be admitted to the hospitals concerned. It will not be possible at present to make penicillin available to private practitioners.
I am advised that the preparation of penicillin requires the highest possible technical control in order to prevent the marketing of inferior and possibly dangerous preparations. For the present all supplies are obtained from the Ministry of Supply, who satisfy themselves through their staff of competent inspectors as to the quality of the penicillin before issue. Regulations have also been prepared for prohibiting the manufacture of penicillin for sale except in accordance with a licence issued under the Therapeutic Substances Act, and in conformity with prescribed conditions, including tests for strength, quality and purity.