§ Sir T. Moore
asked the Minister of Health whether the Joint Sub-Committee on Safety of Drugs has yet reported; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Powell
Yes. The Report, which is endorsed by the Standing Medical Advisory Committees in England and Wales and in Scotland, has been presented to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland and myself. The Report proposes that the Health Ministers should appoint an independent expert Committee on Safety of Drugs which, with the assistance of three subcommittees, would advise, in the light of current medical and scientific knowledge, on the adequacy of toxicity tests of a new drug before it is submitted to clinical trial and on the adequacy of clinical trials before it is released for general use, and would arrange for the collection of data about any adverse effects found subsequently. We accept these recommendations and are taking steps to put the scheme into effect.
We have received assurances that the co-operation of the pharmaceutical industry and of the medical profession will be forthcoming. The details of the scheme will be worked out in full consultation with the industry, with a view to speed and efficiency of operation.
Two members of the Sub-Committee (my hon. Friend the Member for Putney (Sir H. Linstead) and Mr. Grosset) have signed a Note of Dissent, suggesting that a voluntary scheme would not meet the need and that the law relating to drugs requires comprehensive amendment in other respects. The Government have in hand a review of the law relating to drugs generally, with a view to legislation. This review will be carried forward; but the preparation of legislation on this large and complex subject is bound to take time. The Government consider that action on the safety of drugs should not wait upon this legislation, nor do they agree that a voluntary scheme, on the lines recommended by 74W the majority of the Sub-Committee, will be ineffective.
The Report and Note are being published today. Copies are in the Vote Office.