§ Mrs. Curtis-Thomas
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what was the cost of National Health Service prescriptions relating to diabetes in 1997. 
§ Mr. Milburn
Information for the whole of 1997 is not yet available. The net ingredient cost of drugs used in diabetes and dispensed in the community in England in 1996 was £123.7 million. In addition the net ingredient cost of hypodermic equipment was £8.1 million although this may include equipment used for conditions other than diabetes.
§ Mr. Wills
To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what research his Department has(a) commissioned and (b) evaluated into difficulties arising from the standardisation of insulin strengths; 
- (2)what assessment he has made of the benefits of standardising insulin strengths; 
- (3)what assessment he has made of the advantages of allowing doctors to prescribe insulin at different strengths and types; and what assessment he has made of practices in other EU countries relating to the standardisation of insulin strengths. 
§ Ms Jowell
Insulin strengths were standardised in the United Kingdom in the 1980s in order to avoid confusion and administration of the wrong dose. The move was agreed by the medical professions and the British Diabetic86W Association and endorsed by the World Health Organisation and the International Diabetes Federation. All other member states of the European Union have agreed to standardise insulin strengths. The Department has neither commissioned nor evaluated any research into difficulties arising from the switch to a single strength insulin.
§ Ms Jowell
The Medicines Control Agency (MCA) and Committee on Safety of Medicines (CSM) are responsible for the continuous monitoring of the safety of all licensed medicines. The safety of both human (genetically engineered) and animal insulin is therefore under continuous review. The MCA has not evaluated specific studies into the effect on the quality of life of patients who have reverted to animal insulin after using human insulin. The MCA and the CSM will continue to monitor closely the safety of insulins.