§ Mr. Ward
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) whether, in view of evidence from research studies that linoleic acid preparations administered to multiple sclerosis sufferers reduce the number of attacks they suffer, she will reconsider her decision not to allow naudicelle sunflower oil tablets to be prescribed under the National Health Service;
(2) what are the policy guidelines under which placebos may be prescribed under the National Health Service;
(3) whether she is prepred to allow naudicelle sunflower oil preparation to be prescribed as a placebo for the treatment of multiple sclerosis patients.
§ Dr. Owen
Independent medical experts have reviewed, carefully, the scientific evidence on the dietary management of multiple sclerosis. I am informed that they concluded, reluctantly, that the evidence was insufficient to justify regarding dietary supplements such as linoleic acid, the basic ingredient of naudicelle capsules, as having a therapeutic effect on multiple sclerosis. If my hon. Friend has fresh scientific evidence I will ensure that it is submitted to the Advisory Committee for its consideration.
A doctor providing general medical services under the National Health Service can only prescribe "proper and sufficient drugs and medicines and listed 20W appliances": I am advised that naudicelle capsules are a dietary supplement and not a drug, and for this reason it would not be appropriate for them to be prescribed under the general medical services.
The use of placebos is not something on which the Department would wish to lay down policy guidelines.