HC Deb 17 May 1976 vol 911 cc419-20W
Mr. Mike Thomas

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he will consider asking the Medicines Commission to draw up a list of drugs which are new or known to have powerful effects or side effects and make regulations that doctors may not prescribe such drugs or repeat prescription for more than specified periods.

Dr. Owen

All new drugs which are marketed in the United Kingdom have been examined from the point of view of quality, safety and efficacy by the Committee on Safety of Medicines, and any risks and other appropriate warnings such as the duration of treatment are specified in the data sheet for the product, which must be circulated to each doctor and dentist before the product is promoted to them. Doctors are also made aware of the risks and side effects of drugs through the British National Formulary, copies of which are sent by my Department to all doctors. Other sources of such information are the professional literature including the Adverse Drug Reaction Bulletin which is sent to those doctors who subscribe to Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin. Doctors are free to prescribe whatever drug they consider appropriate to the particular needs of their individual patients. Following the report of the Hinchliffe Committee, doctors were advised in 1960 that the amount of drugs to be ordered on one prescription should not normally exceed one week's supply, with exceptions for chronico or particular cases. After the first two weeks, as a general rule, no more than a fortnight's supply should be prescribed at any one time except in long-term cases, such as diabetes, epilepsy, asthma and chronic bronchitis. Doctors are being reminded of this advice in a circular to be issued shortly in connection with the British National Formulary 1976–78.