HC Deb 09 August 1972 vol 842 c497W
Mr. Pavitt

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) if he will take steps to ensure that high dose preparations of isoproterenol are only available on a doctor's prescription in view of the incidence of asthma deaths which may arise from its indiscriminate use;

(2) if he will institute an inquiry into the reason why the number of deaths from asthma doubled between 1965 and 1967 for those aged 5 to 34 years.

Mr. Alison

Pressurised aerosol dispensers containing isoprenaline—the British pharmacopoeial name of isoproterenol—are available only on a doctor's prescription. Excessive use of these aerosols is thought to have been associated with the increased mortality of younger asthmatic subjects in the early and middle 1960s. This increase has already been investigated by a number of research workers. I am sending the hon. Member details of some publications in which their results have been published. In June, 1967 the Committee on Safety of Drugs issued a warning against overuse of aerosols for the relief of asthma; this was followed by a reduction in the death rate attributed to asthma which has now receded almost to its earlier level. Research into the various aspects of the subject, by the Medical Research Council and others, continues.