§ Mr. Redmond
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what representations she has received about drug companies offering incentives to general practitioners to prescribe their products; and if she will make a statement.
§ Mr. Sackville
We have received a number of representations following press reports.
The Government deplore any attempt by drugs companies improperly to influence doctors' prescribing practice and are already taking steps to tighten controls on hospitality and other inducements offered by drugs companies. Consultation has just ended on proposed new provisions which would bring breaches of hospitality norms within the scope of the Medicines Act 1968, and render offending companies or their sales representatives liable to criminal prosecution. Regulations to give effect to these proposals will be laid before Parliament shortly.
The pharmaceutical industry in this country has a strict code of practice, probably the strictest in Europe, which 550W lays down very clear guidelines as to what is acceptable behaviour by sales representatives. The Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority, which administers the code of practice on behalf of the pharmaceutical industry, is already investigating the allegations which have been made and will report its findings to the Department's Medicines Control Agency. It will also apply appropriate sanctions where allegations are substantiated.