HC Deb 24 July 1980 vol 989 cc369-70W
Mrs. Fenner

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what steps are being taken to establish whether Interferon is effective in the treatment of cancer; and what is being done to ensure that the very limited supplies available are used to the best effect.

Dr. Vaughan

The effectiveness of Interferon in the treatment of cancer has yet to be established. Because there is so little Interferon available, and that at very high cost, the first priority must be to use it in carefully designed clinical trials to test its effectiveness. The funding bodies that support cancer research in this country are accordingly making a substantial investment in order to improve methods of producing Interferon and to enable sufficient quantities to be provided for carrying out these much needed trials in certain specialist centres. Meanwhile, although I have every sympathy with the intense distress of those whose relatives or friends are suffering from cancer and whose hopes may have been raised by unduly optimistic reports of its effectiveness, I regret that supplies of Interferon cannot be made available through the NHS for the treatment of individual patients who are not included in the trials.