HC Deb 16 July 1976 vol 915 cc293-4W
Mr. Adam Butler

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if, in view of claims about the beneficial effects of sunflower seed oil for sufferers from multiple sclerosis, he will now include it in the list of prescribable drugs or medicines under the Health Service Act.

Mr. Whitehead

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what advance has been made since the meeting of his Advisory Committee on Borderline Substances in July 1974 to ascertain what dietary processes may help in the control of multiple sclerosis; and if he will list the substances that have been reviewed in this context.

Dr. Owen

The dietary supplements reviewed in connection with the control of multiple sclerosis are gluten-free diet and linoleic acid, which is present in sunflower seed oil.

At the meeting to which my hon. Friend refers, the Advisory Committee on Borderline Substances concluded, reluctantly, that the evidence was insufficient to justify regarding these dietary supplements as having a therapeutic effect on multiple sclerosis; and, therefore, as medicines that can be supplied at health service expense to multiple sclerosis patients who are living at home and being treated by their family doctors.

Claims that dietary supplements particularly linoleic acid, are of value in the treatment of multiple sclerosis patients continue to be made and research is continuing; but I am not aware that fresh scientific evidence that would support these claims has emerged since the meeting. Nor has the licensing authority constituted under the Medicines Act 1968 issued any product licence that would enable a product containing linoleic acid or its derivatives to be promoted as a medicine for multiple sclerosis.

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