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Charles Hendry: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many children have been prescribed Ritalin in each of the past 10 years. [1569]

Jane Kennedy: This information is not available in the form requested. The Department does not hold data on the number of people who receive medication. However,
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359,100 prescription items of Methylphenidate Hydrochloride were dispensed in the community in England in 2004. Ritalin is one brand of the drug Methylphenidate, and accounted for 19 per cent. of the total number of items.

In 2004, it is estimated that around 90 per cent. of the 359,100 prescription items were dispensed in the community to children (children under 16 and young people aged 16 to 18 in full-time education). This proportion has been similar in recent years.

The table shows the total number of prescription items, in thousands, of the chemical entity Methylphenidate Hydrochloride that were dispensed in the community in England from 1995 to 2004, by product.
Number of prescription items in thousands

Total for
RitalinConcertaEquasymMethylphenidate (generic)Otherschemical entity Methylphenidate Hydrochloride

Prescription Cost Analysis (PCA) data from the Prescription Pricing Authority

Charles Hendry: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what advice has been issued to (a) general practitioners and (b) consultants on the prescribing of Ritalin to children. [1570]

Jane Kennedy: Methylphenidate (Ritalin) is an amphetamine-like medicine, which is authorised as part of a comprehensive treatment programme for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children aged six years and older where remedial measures alone prove insufficient. It has controlled drug status, which imposes restrictions on prescribing and handling.

Guidance on prescribing and use of methylphenidate is provided in the summary of product characteristics (SPC) for health professionals and the British National Formulary issued to all doctors. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has also issued guidance on the use of methylphenidate for ADHD in childhood.

Both the SPC and NICE guidance include recommendations that treatment with methylphenidate should be under the supervision of a specialist in childhood behavioural disorders, children on methylphenidate should receive regular monitoring and treatment with methylphenidate should be periodically discontinued in order to assess the child's progress and the need for continuing with the medicine.

As with all medicines, the safety of methylphenidate is closely monitored by the Medical Healthcare products Regional Authority and the Committee on Safety of Medicines to ensure that prescribing guidance is accurate, up-to-date and supports the safe use of medicines.

Streptococcus Testing

Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1)if she will make it her policy to provide group B streptococcus testing on the NHS near the end of pregnancy; and if she will make a statement; [1822]

(2) what advice her Department has given to health care professionals on group B streptococcus testing during pregnancy; [1823]

(3) what research her Department has conducted into group B streptococcus testing during pregnancy. [1824]

Jane Kennedy: The current position is that routine screening of group B streptococcus should not be offered to all pregnant women. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence's guideline on antenatal care states that:

The United Kingdom national screening committee (NSC) has commissioned an electronic learning resource for health care professionals from the national electronic library for health to promote the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists' guideline on prevention of early onset neonatal group B streptococcal disease.
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The NSC is also considering further research needs. As part of this, it has asked the health technology assessment programme to undertake two studies:

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Dr. Vis: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many prisoners were diagnosed as suffering from tuberculosis in the last year for which figures are available. [1828]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Information is not routinely collected from prison establishments on the number of prisoners diagnosed as suffering from tuberculosis.