§ Mr. McLoughlin
To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he expects to receive the Medicine Commission's annual report for 1987.
§ Mr. Mellor
I have received the report and copies have today been laid before both Houses of Parliament in accordance with section 5(2) of the Medicines Act 1968.
Bound volumes will shortly be placed in the Libraries containing the 1987 reports of the Medicines Commission, the Committee on Safety of Medicines, the Veterinary Products Committee, the British Pharmacopoeia Commission, the Committee on the Review of Medicines and the Committee on Dental and Surgical Materials.
The bound volumes also include the code of practice on declaration of interests in the pharmaceutical industry which is followed by members of the Medicines Commission, the Committee on Safety of Medicines, the Committee on Review of Medicines and the Committee on Dental and Surgical Materials, and their sub-committees. The code provides that members should declare personal interests in the industry to the Department of Health. They should also declare them where relevant at meetings of the commission or committees when they should in addition declare any interests their academic departments may have in the products under discussion. The code provides that information about members' personal interests shall be published with the annual reports. This information is published for the first time with the 1987 reports. I have decided to extend the range of interests to be declared and published so as to cover the interests of members' departments as well as personal interests. These interests will be published with the 1988 annual reports. This code is not appropriate for the British Pharmacopoeia Commission, which is not involved in licensing matters. I 559W understand that a similar code has recently been adopted by the Veterinary Products Committee under which members must declare interests to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and that the necessary follow-up action is in hand.
I am glad to pay tribute to the valuable work done in the public interest by the distinguished members of the Medicines Act advisory bodies. Members follow the ethical standards set by the code of practice, and any involvements they may have in research sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry helps them to keep in touch with important aspects of drug development while avoiding conflicts of interest which might otherwise impair the objectivity of the scientific and clinical advice they give. I have full confidence in the personal integrity of the members concerned.