HC Deb 10 June 2002 vol 386 cc1086-7W
Dr. Fox

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much his Department has spent on evaluating(a) traditional and (b) alternative medicines in each of the past five years. [56960]

Ms Blears

In relation to the regulation of medicines, there are no existing regulatory categories defined as traditional or alternative medicines and it is not possible to estimate expenditure on the evaluation of such products. The Medicines Control Agency undertakes a wide range of evaluative activity in relation to herbal and homeopathic medicines, many of which have a basis in tradition. These activities include determining whether a product should be classified as a medicine, assessing applications for marketing authorisations for herbal medicines, assessing applications under the homeopathic registration scheme, and assessing safety and compliance issues affecting licensed and unlicensed herbal and homeopathic medicines.

The Department has directly funded a number of research projects which fall within the broad definition of traditional and alternative medicine, most of which are on-going, at a total cost of about £600,000.

In addition, the Cochrane collaboration in the United Kingdom receives substantial support from the NHS research and development levy, and has contributed a large number of systematic reviews of alternative therapies to the Cochrane database of systematic reviews. The website of the Cochrane complementary field (http://www.compmed.umm.edu/Compmed/Cochrane/ Cochrane.htm) lists the titles of those Cochrane reviews.