HC Deb 25 February 1988 vol 128 cc300-1W
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services what are the terms of reference of the advisory committee on borderline substances; and what are the criteria used to decide whether a borderline substance should be placed on the list of products excluded from prescription under the National Health Service.

Mr. Newton

The terms of reference of the Advisory Committee on Borderline Substances (ACBS) areTo keep under review the principles for determining whether preparations should properly be regarded as drugs, foods, toilet preparations, or disinfectants and to give advice on the classification of particular preparations in these categories submitted to the Committee. In making decisions about borderline substances the Secretary of State is advised by the ACBS. This committee provides him with expert independent medical advice on the classification of so-called borderline substances and whether they should not be prescribed by general medical practitioners at NHS expense or should be prescribed for patients with specified medical conditions.

The committee considers all relevant information provided by the manufacturer of the substance concerned; and the sole criterion used by the committee in reaching an opinion that a particular borderline substance should not be prescribed is that it has no therapeutic use in the treatment of disease.

The Secretary of State, in deciding whether a borderline substance should be placed on schedule 3A to the NHS (General Medical and Pharmaceutical Services) Regulations 1974 and so not be prescribable by general practitioners at NHS expense, takes the committee's advice into account and uses the same criterion. Scotland and Northern Ireland have corresponding arrangements.