HC Deb 01 July 1976 vol 914 cc282-3W
Mrs. Wise

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will introduce regulations to improve labelling of drugs, especially to warn patients of possible side-effects, such as drowsiness, and of the danger of combining them with certain foods or with alcohol.

Dr. Owen

Many medicines that can be purchased either from pharmacies or other outlets already contain warnings. However, my Department has recently issued a consultation letter setting out proposals for Regulations under the Medicines Act which would strengthen requirements as to the inclusion of appropriate warnings on labels on certain medicines. The proposals follow a review by the Medicines Commission of the labelling provisions in the existing Poisons Rules which are due to be replaced when Part III of the Medicines Act is implemented. For example, in the case of anti-histamines, the present statutory warning which readsThis may cause drowsiness. If affected do not drive or operate machinery is to be expanded to include a warning to avoid alcohol.

These statutory requirements on labelling do not at present, and will not under the proposals, apply to medicines prescribed by a doctor. In such cases it is considered to be the doctor's professional responsibility to decide what warnings should be given to his patient. At the time of dispensing, pharmacists may in certain instances, for example with monoamine oxidase inhibitors, issue standard warning cards which mention precautions to be observed with other remedies and certain foods. The Medicines Commission is currently considering the question of improving the information to be given to patients on prescribed medicines.

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