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4 Jul 2005 : Column 204W—continued

Cancer

Tim Farron: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 26 May 2005, Official Report, columns 76–77W, on breast cancer, what discussions her Department has had with the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence since the Magnetic Resonance Imaging for Breast Screening study became available. [7844]

Ms Rosie Winterton [holding answer 28 June 2005]: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) normally reviews its guidelines after three to five years to ensure that they continue to reflect the best available evidence. Should NICE be aware of any trials or research projects that are due for completion after the published appraisal, NICE will then bring forward the review date to coincide with completion of the trial or research.
 
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The NICE guideline on familial breast cancer noted that several magnetic resonance imaging studies would be reporting over the following two years, and that the recommendations in the guideline would be reviewed when the information from these studies became available.

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what percentage of breast cancer patients lived for at least five years after treatment in the last period for which figures are available; and if she will make a statement. [8123]

John Healey: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician who has been asked to reply.

Letter from Len Cook to Ms Lynne Featherstone, dated 30 June 2005:

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what financial resources are being made available in 2005–06 for (a) research into and (b) increasing public awareness of the causes of (i) lung cancer, (ii) prostate cancer, (iii) heart disease and (iv) cervical cancer; and if she will make a statement. [6697]

Jane Kennedy: The main agency through which the Government supports medical and clinical research is the Medical Research Council (MRC). The MRC is unable at this stage to predict 2005–06 spend by topic.

Over 75 per cent. of the Department's total expenditure on health research is devolved to and managed by national health service organisations. Research active NHS organisations account for their use of the research and development allocations they receive from the Department in an annual report. These retrospective reports analyse expenditure by reference to some 16 national priority areas including cancer and coronary heart disease.

The National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) publishes a strategic analysis that provides a detailed overview of the cancer research in the United Kingdom that is directly funded by the NCRIs 20 partner organisations. The latest analysis can be found on the NCRI's website at: www.ncri.org.uk/crd/index.cfm?
 
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NavSub=10. This shows the proportion of expenditure on research under way on 1 April 2004 devoted to a number of tumour types.

Smoking and tobacco use are major causes of a number of cancers and of coronary heart disease and the Department has an ongoing campaign using national media, helplines and support materials that increases public awareness of this. Some £41 million is being allocated to the campaign in 2005–06.

Cervical cancer is caused by an infection that is nearly always sexually transmitted. The Department will launch a £50 million advertising campaign later this year promoting condom use and highlighting the risks from sexually transmitted infections.

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will make a statement on cervical cancer screening in the NHS. [8044]

Ms Rosie Winterton: In 2003–04, 81 per cent. of eligible women in England had a cervical screening test result at least once in the last five years 1 . 3.6 million women were screened 2 and laboratories reported four million tests. 128,000 women were referred following abnormal results.

Following an appraisal by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) in 2003, the cervical screening programme in England is currently being modernised with the introduction of liquid based cytology (LBC). LBC techniques offer a new way to prepare screening test samples for examination in the laboratory. NICE concluded LBC will reduce the number of unsatisfactory tests and improve the speed with which slides can be read. Due to a large retraining programme, full implementation is expected by 2008.

The Government are also committed to speeding up the results of cervical screening, and officials are working on the best way of taking this forward.

1 Department of Health Statistical Bulletin, Cervical Screening Programme, England: 2002–03 2 Department of Health Statistical Bulletin, Cervical Screening Programme, England: 2002–03

Mr. Havard: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will investigate the Pan Birmingham Cancer Network's decision to place a moratorium on the use of a number of newly licensed cancer drugs. [8511]

Ms Rosie Winterton: It is for individual cancer networks and primary care trusts to make decisions on the drugs they wish to make available to patients, taking into account the needs of the local population and, where appropriate, national guidance from National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.

We are putting record amounts of new investment into the national health service. Between 2003 and 2008, NHS expenditure in England will increase on average by 7.5 per cent., each year. It is for PCTs to decide how best to spend these resources taking into account local circumstances.

In the case of recently licensed treatments, the Department has made it clear that funding should not be withheld because guidance from NICE is
 
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unavailable. In these circumstances, the Department expects PCTs to take full account of the available evidence when reaching funding decisions.

Counterfeit Medicines

Mr. Walker: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what actions the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency is taking to tackle the distribution of counterfeit medicines through the supply chain; and if she will make a statement; [5676]

(2) what steps her Department takes (a) to advise patients about counterfeit medicines and (b) to educate patients to identify counterfeit medicines; and if she will make a statement; [5677]

(3) what action her Department is taking to tackle the (a) production, (b) import and (c) purchase of counterfeit medicines; and if she will make a statement; [5678]

(4) what the estimated value of counterfeit medicines entering the UK supply chain was in each of the last five years; and if she will make a statement; [5679]

(5) what discussions her Department has had with Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs on counterfeit medicines; and if she will make a statement. [5680]

Jane Kennedy: The regulation of all medicines on the United Kingdom market is undertaken by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) on behalf of Health Ministers. The MHRA is an executive agency of the Department. Its primary aim is to protect public health through the control of medicines on the UK market. This is achieved through a licensing and inspection system, which assures medicines conform to agreed standards of quality, safety and efficacy, and further ensures that licensed medicines are manufactured, stored and distributed to maintain these standards.

In August 2004, two counterfeit products, purporting respectively to be Cialis, an erectile dysfunction treatment, and Reductil, an anti-obesity treatment, were discovered in the legitimate UK supply chain. This is the first time in 10 years that counterfeit products are known to have reached the legitimate UK supply chain.

Over 600 million prescriptions are written annually in the UK. Therefore these two discoveries of counterfeit medicines in the small numbers that reached the legitimate UK supply chain, prior to recall, needs to be viewed in that context. However, the MHRA takes each and every such case very seriously and full investigation follows discovery.

The number of boxes of counterfeit Cialis, including part-boxes, that were returned following the MHRA recall was 2,300. Each 20 milligrammes (mg) box of four Cialis tablets is valued at £23.40 1 . The number of boxes, including part-boxes, of counterfeit Reductil that were returned following the MHRA recall was 61. Each 10mg box of 28 Reductil capsules is valued at £41.29 1 .

The MHRA intelligence unit coordinates a comprehensive agency-wide anti-counterfeiting strategy to apply an array of measures to ensure that counterfeit medicines do not penetrate the UK medicines supply chain.
 
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This includes regular liaison with all stakeholders including Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and other law enforcement agencies on all manners of pharmaceutical crime. HMRC collaboration focuses on tackling importations of counterfeit medicines through its border controls. Another key area of such collaboration with HMRC includes joint meetings with the pharmaceutical industry to identify ways to collectively deal with counterfeit medicines.

Educational aspects of the MHRA anti-counterfeiting strategy are primarily focussed on stakeholder education at a national and European level. The aim being to ensure that necessary procedures are in place throughout the supply chain to prevent counterfeit medicine penetration. Thus, a patient can confidently receive a safe, good quality and efficacious medicine through the regulated medicines supply chain.

Educating patients to identify counterfeit medicines is considered counter-productive in that it could lead to the undermining of public confidence in the UK medicines distribution chain and perfectly safe treatment regimes. Also, potential checks by the public are likely to prove futile as most counterfeit medicines cannot be detected by the untrained eye and even trained personnel often have to rely on forensic laboratory testing to confirm counterfeits.

The MHRA has launched an internet campaign to warn the public of the potential dangers involved with purchasing medicines over the internet where some, but not all, websites belong to unscrupulous vendors that sell counterfeit medicines. An education campaign is also being drafted to target those members of the public who purchase medicines through illicit means.


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