§ Mr. David Nicholson
To ask the Secretary of State for Health if it is her Department's policy to encourage the parallel importation of medicines in order to save money for the NHS; and if she will make a statement.
§ Dr. Mawhinney
Parallel imports are a consequence of substantial price differentials for pharmaceuticals created by a wide variety of national pricing mechanisms across the European Union within a single European market with common licensing criteria. We consider that the parallel importing scheme which has operated since 1984 neither encourages nor discourages parallel imports, but strikes the right balance between ensuring that imported medicines comply with EU standards of safety, quality and efficacy and avoiding placing undue obstacles in the way of importers.