§ Mr. Alton
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans she has to change the reimbursable status of gluten-free foods and low protein products; how many patients suffering from coeliac disease and metabolic disorders currently benefit from the present arrangements; what is the annual cost; when she expects the committee on borderline substances to report on the future status of currently available products; and if she will hold discussions with the manufacturers of these products and representatives of sufferers.
§ Mr. Sackville
We have no plans to change the reimbursable status of gluten-free foods and low protein products. The independent Advisory Committee on Borderline Substances will, however, be reviewing products in these categories later in the year. Its remit is to ensure that such products which have therapeutic use in the treatment of disease in the community can be provided as economically as possible under the national health 437W service. Patients' needs will be taken into account and they will continue to receive products which are necessary to treat their condition under the NHS. We expect the committee to complete this task early next year and manufacturers who may be affected will be given the opportunity to present information to the committee before their products are reviewed. A total of 998,100 prescriptions for foods for special diets were dispensed by community pharmacists, dispensing doctors and for personal administration, in England in 1992 at a total cost of £ 14.9 million. Details on the number of patients are not available.