§ Dr. Ladyman
To ask the Secretary of State for Health in the last full year for which figures are available(a) what was the total cost to the NHS of medicines and treatments issued by prescription, (b) how much of this cost was recouped by prescription charges, (c) how much would be recouped if the prescription charge was levied only once for all the items which comprise a specific course of treatment purchased on a single prescription, (d) how much would be recouped if the retail price was paid by the patient whenever it was less than the prescription charge and (e) how much would be recouped if the changes set out in (c) and (d) were both implemented. 
§ Mr. Milburn
The information available in respect of 1996–97 for England isthe total cost to the National Health Service of prescriptions dispensed £4,519 millionamount collected1 in prescription charges (including sales of pre-payment certificates): £296 millioninformation on how much would be recouped if all the items for a single course of treatment was purchased on a single prescription is not availablereduction in the amount that would have been collected2 if the charge had been restricted to the cost to the NHS3 when this was lower than the prescription charge: £50 million
Information on how much would be recouped if both of these changes were implemented is not available.
Notes:1 by pharmacists, appliance contractors and dispensing doctors2 by pharmacists and appliance contractors only for items charged at the point of dispensing. There would also be an unquantifiable effect in the amount collected by dispensing doctors and from the sale of pre-payment certificates3 information about retail prices is not available in this context