§ Mr. Coombs
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) if he will investigate the sugar content of paediatric medicines and its impact on the aetiology of dental caries;
(2) if he will take steps to ensure that a range of sugar-free liquid medicines are made available in the United Kingdom.
§ Mr. John Patten
We have received expert advice on a number of occasions that long-term use by children of medicines containing sugar can cause serious dental decay. A warning to this effect has been included in the "Prescribing for Children" section of the British National Formulary and prescribers are encouraged to use sugar-free alternatives wherever possible.
In discussions with manufacturers, licensing authority staff stress the desirability of minimising or removing the sugar content of medicines, espectially paediatric ones. Sugar in solution is, however, a non-toxic and effective base and preservative for liquid medicine and it can be difficult to reformulate satisfactorily using alternatives which do not present other problems.