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Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the average length of time taken by the European Medicines Evaluation Agency was to approve a cancer drug for formal marketing approval is in the last year for which figures are available. 
For anti-cancer drugs, figures are available for the most recent full year period from January 2004 to January 2005. These show an average time of 122 days from start of the approval procedure to the preliminary opinion of the scientific committee. This is then
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followed by an average of 70 days for the scientific committee to evaluate any additional data needed and agree a positive opinion on the application. The final administrative steps prior to the issue of the European Commission's marketing authorisation have taken on average 91 days. These steps include the opportunity for Member States to make observations on the draft decision of the commission.
A revised European Regulation coming into force in November 2005 now requires considerably shorter times for these final administrative steps. This was one of the responses by the European Parliament to criticisms raised during the review of medicines legislation in Europe.
Ms Rosie Winterton: There are no national health service foundation trusts in Hertfordshire. However, Bedford Hospital NHS trust is currently applying for foundation status. Subject to receiving the Secretary of State's support, Bedford Trust will be able to make an application to Monitor, the statutory name of which is the independent regulator of NHS foundation trusts, for consideration for authorisation next year.
Hemel Hempstead Hospital is part of West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS trust which is a one star organisation and therefore has not been invited to apply for foundation status. We are committed to ensuring that all trusts should have the opportunity to apply for foundation status and are engaged with Monitor and strategic health authorities on a diagnostic programme to determine the state of readiness of all NHS acute trusts for foundation status.
Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate she has made of the administration costs of maintaining foundation status (a) in total for the NHS in England and (b) for each foundation trust. 
Mr. Byrne: Neither the Department nor Monitor, the statutory name of which is the independent regulator of national health service foundation trusts, hold this information. Administrative costs will vary between NHS foundation trusts. The accounts of the 31 NHS foundation trusts authorised in 200405 were laid before Parliament in July 2005, copies of which are available in the Library.
Charlotte Atkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when the outcome of the review of the quality and outcomes framework of the general medical services contract will be announced; and if she will make a statement. 
[holding answer 31 October 2005]: NHS Employers, on behalf of United Kingdom health Ministers, is currently discussing with the British Medical Association's general practitioners committee
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revisions to the existing general medical services contract, from April 2006 including changes to the quality and outcomes framework from April 2006. As part of this, an expert panel was engaged by NHS Employers to consider independently the evidence for any new clinical indicator within the quality and outcomes framework. That advice is informing negotiations. An announcement on changes to the current contract that will apply from April 2006 will be made at the end of the negotiating process, and once approved by the respective UK health Ministers. This is intended to be later in the year.
Caroline Flint: The hepatitis C action plan for England, July 2004, sets out a framework of key actions to improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of hepatitis C. It highlights the need to raise awareness of hepatitis C in order to increase diagnosis.
Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what discussions she has had with countries which have already approved Herceptin on the effectiveness of the drug against early stage breast cancer. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: Contact is being made by officials with Slovenia, France, Germany, Netherlands, Spain, the United States of America and Canada to investigate the position of those countries on the prescribing of Herceptin.
Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the outcome was of meetings with the National Cancer Director Professor and the medical directors of NHS cancer networks with regard to offering HER2 testing for the suitability of Herceptin to all women diagnosed with early breast cancer. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: The outcome of the meeting between Professor Mike Richards and medical directors of national health service cancer networks was that each of the 34 cancer networks would submit action plans to the Department by 4 November 2005 on how they will implement HER2 testing.
Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the cost per patient is (a) of using Herceptin for the treatment of breast cancer and (b) of the treatment of the recurrence of HER2 breast cancer. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: The cost of Herceptin for the treatment of breast cancer is estimated to be around £20,000 per patient per year. Estimates of the cost of the treatment of the recurrence of HER2 breast cancer are not available due to the complexity of treating advanced disease and the different treatment options available.
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