HC Deb 17 October 1972 vol 843 cc30-1W
Mr. Pavitt

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) why he has not prohibited the sale of any product including hexachlorophane except on a doctor's prescription, in view of the fact that in February the Pharmaceutical Society advised their members only to supply such products on medical advice;

(2) if he has yet received the report on the short-term studies he announced as being conducted into the absorption of hexachlorophane into the blood; if information has been sought regarding the death of 20 babies in France suspected to be due to this ingredient in talcum powder as included in the information sent to him by the hon. Member for Willesden, West; and if he will make a statement.

Sir K. Joseph

Following the promulgation, in February, of my acceptance of the recommendations of the Committee on Safety of Medicines and the subsequent advice given by the Pharmaceutical Society to its members, many manufacturers removed hexachlorophane from their medicinal products. The available information is that where hexachlorophane was retained in medicinal products for its valuable antibacterial activity there was general observance of the advice given by the Committee and by the Pharmaceutical Society. In view of recent incidents I again consulted the Committee who confirmed its original advice. With regard to the studies announced in my answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Reading (Dr. Vaughan), a pilot study was inconclusive but I am informed by the representatives of industry that most manufacturers of non-medicinal cosmetic and toilet preparations have now removed hexachlorophane from their products. My officials have been in touch with the French authorities and I am advised that this tragic incident is still under investigation.

I am considering whether statutory limitations consonant with the advice of the Committee on Safety of Medicines should be imposed on the availability of medicinal products containing hexachlorophane and, I am in consultation with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department over cosmetic and toilet preparations.—[Vol. 831, c. 183–4.]

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