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Ms Blears: The Department has supported the Joint Epilepsy Council in developing a "National Statement of Good Practice for the Treatment and Care of People who have Epilepsy", which was published in May 2002. The statement makes a series of recommendations for good quality epilepsy services. It is intended to facilitate commissioning and will be of use to national health service purchasers, providers and service users.
The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) provides advice on best clinical practice to NHS clinicians, commissioners of NHS services, and to patients and their carers. NICE is developing a clinical guideline for the diagnosis, management and treatment of epilepsy, NICE is also conducting a technology appraisal of the clinical and cost effectiveness of new anti-epileptic drugs in children and adults to help promote appropriate uptake and equitable access. The appraisal is due late next year and the guideline summer 2004, and both will be available to primary care trusts.
Ms Blears: The Department has recently welcomed the publication of the National Sentinel Audit of Epilepsy- Related Death. The audit looked at investigations into epilepsy deaths, care provided prior to death and contact with bereaved families. It makes recommendations for improving epilepsy services. The Department has given a commitment to consider these and develop an action plan by September 2002 to try to reduce the number of epilepsy-related deaths.
It is a long-standing, and important, principle of successive Governments that they do not prescribe to the individual research councils the detail of how they should distribute resources between competing priorities.
The Medical Research Council (MRC) is the main Government agency for research into the causes of and treatments for disease. The MRC always welcomes high quality applications from the scientific community for support into any aspect of biomedical research, including epilepsy. Applications are judged in open competition with other demands on funding.
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In 200001 the MRC spent around £3 million on research relevant to epilepsy. Additionally, the Department has spent around £1.5 million on directly commissioned projects on epilepsy since May 1997. This research will help to improve our understanding of the condition and aid in the development of treatments for it.
Jim Dobbin: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what evidence underlay the statement of his noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary that international research contradicted the claims made by Dr. David Paton of Nottingham university, in his paper on teenage pregnancy in the Journal of Health Economics, March 2002. 
Ms Blears: The social exclusion unit report on teenage pregnancy gathered evidence from the best available international research to inform the cross-Government teenage pregnancy strategy. That evidence is supported by more recent research which concludes that improved sex and relationship education and access to youth contraceptive clinics have been shown to reduce teenage pregnancy rates but do not hasten the onset of or increase sexual activity among young people.
"Factors Affecting Changes in Rates of Teenage Conceptions 1991 to 1997".
"Teenage Sexual and Reproductive Behaviour in Developed Countries. Can more progress be made?"
"Why is Teenage Pregnancy Declining? The roles of abstinence, sexual activity and contraceptive use".
"A League Table of Teenage Births in Rich Nations".
Dr. Iddon: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of (a) the provisional findings of the EU Scientific Committee on Food on the upper safe levels of nutrient intake for vitamin-B6 and Niacin and (b) the levels accepted as safe in the UK by health food manufacturers; and by how much and for what reasons he expects those levels to be further reduced under the Provisions of Article 5 of the European Food Supplements Directive when being used as the basis for setting maximum permitted levels of nutrient content in food supplements. 
Ms Blears: The Government will take a view on these provisional findings when it receives advice from the expert group on vitamins and minerals (EVM), which has been established to draw up advice on maximum safe intakes of vitamins and minerals. The EVM is expected to publish its findings during the summer, and is aware of both the assessments of the SCF and other expert evaluations of the available evidence.
The Government continues to press for a safety-based approach to setting of maximum limits under Article 5 of the EU food supplements directive; no specific levels for individual nutrients have yet been discussed.
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Dr. Iddon: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what action the Food Standards Agency and his Department plans to take (a) to promote to other European Member States and Commission officials the conclusions of the forthcoming report from his Ad Hoc Expert Advisory Group on Vitamins and Minerals, (b) to commence a dialogue with Commission officials and the EU Scientific Committee on Foods about the information requirements for dossiers submitted for consideration in relation to the safety of vitamins and minerals which have been on the market for many years and (c) to use interGovernmental contact with other EU Member States to pursue his objectives in relation to the interpretation of the provisions of Article 5 of the Food Supplements Directive. 
Ms Blears: The food standards agency (FSA) will circulate the draft report of the expert group on vitamins and minerals (EVM) to the commission and all EU Member States, and will contact key officials to discuss the implications of these findings as appropriate.
At the request of industry the scientific committee for foods has issued guidance on the required content of safety dossiers supporting use of nutrient sources, and the commission has issued guidance on the procedures for submitting such dossiers. The Government considers the guidance to be helpful and does not intend to intervene.
The FSA continues to take every opportunity to put the case to other European Union member states that Article 5 of the EU food supplements directive should not be used to restrict unnecessarily the range of food supplements available to consumes specific plans for further contacts will be drawn up as appropriate when detailed risk assessments are available for discussion.
Dr. Iddon: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list (a) those nutrients and nutrient sources which are permitted for inclusion in food supplements under the annexes of the European Food Supplements Directive and (b) those nutrients and nutrient sources which are available on the UK market but which are not included in those annexes. 
Ms Blears: The final text of the directive, following adoption at development council on 30 May 2002, has not yet been published. Nutrients and nutrient sources permitted for inclusion in food supplements under the annexes of the European Food Supplements Directive (common position adopted by the Council on 3 December 2001) and published in the Official Journal C 90 E/1 on 16 April 2002 are listed.
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