HC Deb 18 February 1997 vol 290 cc545-6W
Mr. Alex Carlile

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what research his Department has(a) commissioned and (b) evaluated into the possible dangers arising out of the use of Suxamethonium and similar anaesthetics on patients who have been exposed to orgnaophosphates, with particular reference to (i) agricultural workers, (ii) pet owners and (iii) Gulf war veterans: and if he will make a statement. [14152]

Mr. Horam

[holding answer 5 February 1997]: The Department of Health has not commissioned research into the use of Suxamethonium use in agricultural workers, pet owners or Gulf war veterans exposed to organophosphate pesticides.

The available research into the side-effects of Suxamethonium and related anaesthetics, as for all marketed medicines, was assessed at the time of granting the marketing authorisation and continues to be evaluated by the Medicines Control Agency whenever new information emerges.

Suxamethonium and related anaesthetics are contra-indicated for use in patients known to have low serum levels of pseudocholinesterase—the enzyme which breaks down this type of medicine. Most often low levels of pseudocholinesterase are due to an inherited structural abnormality of the enzyme but another cause of low pseudocholinesterase activity is acute organophosphorus insecticide poisoning. There is a specific warning in the product information, produced by the manufacturer and authorised by the licensing authority, which contra-indicates use in those patients who have poisoning with an organophosphorus insecticide.

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