HC Deb 15 April 1965 vol 710 cc240-1W
Mr. Alasdair Mackenzie

asked the Minister of Health what steps are being taken to ensure adequate quality control over medicines being imported into this country by suppliers using the provision of Section 41 of the Patents Acts, 1949.

Mr. Walden

asked the Minister of Health (1) if he will set up an inquiry into deteriorated and dangerous examples of tetracycline paediatric drops which pharmacists were stocking to supply on prescription to members of the public;

(2) if he is aware that drugs imported by Inter-Continental Pharmaceuticals Limited have not undergone the required tests; and if he will ban the use of these drugs in the National Health Service until they have done so.

Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd

asked the Minister of Health whether, in view of the deficiencies in tetracycline paediatric drops and other drugs, brought to light by the City Analyst of Birmingham, he will now introduce amending legislation on the quality of drugs.

Mr. Abse

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware of public concern that imported drugs, including tetracycline, are being sold at strengths below that claimed; whether, to reduce the resulting hazards to children, he will seek power to set up an independent central authority for the quality control of drugs with appointed regional laboratories for examination of samples taken by inspectors with powers to check drugs for accuracy of composition, formulation and structure.

Mr. K. Robinson

A sample of tetracycline paediatric drops imported by the firm mentioned was recently found by the Research Chemist in the Birmingham City Analytical Laboratory to be seriously deficient in potency, although an analysis by the manufacturers in Italy showed that at the time of manufacture the batch was not deficient. The firm has taken steps to withdraw the consignments. Food and drugs authorities have powers to take samples of drugs available for sale by retail and to prosecute in suitable cases if deficiencies are found. But the law as it stands at present provides no direct means of requiring manufacturers to introduce adequate control measures during production except in the case of a limited class of medicines such as vaccines, sera and injectable antibiotics. I am considering what additional powers are called for in the course of the current review of medicines legislation.