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To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 23 November 2005, Official Report, column 2108W, on diabetes, what
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assessment she has made of the safety of long-term use of insulin analogues, with particular reference to carcinogenic risks. 
Jane Kennedy [holding answer 9 January 2006]: Human insulin analogues are licensed through the European centralised licensing procedure. The quality, safety and efficacy of these products in assessed prior to licensing by the European Scientific Advisory Committee, the Committee on Medicines for Human Use in accordance with European regulatory guidelines, including Points to consider document on the non-clinical assessment of the carcinogenic potential of insulin analogues". The available clinical data does not provide any evidence to suggest that diabetic patients who receive either human insulin, insulin analogues or animal insulin analogues are at an increased risk of developing cancer.
Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 23 November 2005, Official Report, column 2108W, on diabetes, what steps she has taken to (a) ensure that patients' next-of-kin and carers are able to make a fully informed choice among all insulin treatment options and (b) such choice is also available when individual insulin options are discontinued. 
Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 23 November 2005, Official Report, column 2109W, on diabetes, what guidance on the use of insulins her Department has issued to inform decision making by (a) patients and (b) clinicians; and what steps she has taken to provide information on the risks and benefits of all insulin regimes. 
Ms Rosie Winterton [holding answer 9 January 2006]: The choice of insulin prescribed to a patient is a clinical decision made as a result of a joint decision making process between the patient and their clinician taking into account all available evidence and the individuals specific clinical needs. From January 2006, the national Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidance on patient education will require all primary care trusts to implement NICE recommendations by providing all people with diabetes with high quality, structured education which should include information on insulin use.
Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many meetings of the EU Pharmaceutical Committee have taken place during the UK Presidency of the EU; who presided over each meeting; what other UK representatives were present; what provision was made for representation of the devolved governments; and if she will make a statement. 
Jane Kennedy: During the United Kingdom Presidency, the Pharmaceutical Committee met in Brussels on 12 September and 2 December 2005. On both occasions the meeting was chaired by a senior official from the Commission, which is the norm for this committee. The UK's role was largely unaffected by the Presidency, other than reporting on Council Presidency business. At the 12 September meeting the UK was represented by senior officials from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and the Veterinary Medicines Directorate; at the 2 December meeting, the UK was represented by two senior officials from the MHRA. The UK members of the Pharmaceutical Committee represent UK-wide interests on the Committee and work in co-operation with the Scottish Executive and other Devolved Administrations as required.
Mr. Caton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what representations she has received from ophthalmologists and opticians about the retention of the nationally negotiated sight test and fee; 
(2) what representations she has received from ophthalmologists and opticians on the continuation ofthe right of optometrists and registered corporate bodies to hold a local general ophthalmic services contract. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: We have received letters from optical representative bodies and from honourable members on behalf of opticians in their areas seeking reassurances in relation to the effect of the clauses in the Health Bill concerning General Ophthalmic Services (GOS).
I met with the three main optical bodies on 27 October 2005. They raised the issue of the continuation of the right optometrists and registered corporate bodies to hold a local general ophthalmic services contract. I assured them that we envisage the sight testing service operating like the GOS system now. Contractors, who meet agreed national criteria, subject to local decision on matters such as quality of service, will be able to have a GOS contract. Patients will be able to choose a GOS contractor who provides their sight test. We also envisage continuing to have a centrally negotiated sight test fee with access to sight tests not being constrained locally by individual primary care trust budgets.
Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what changes the planned amendments to food labelling laws will make to the information and choice available to consumers on genetically modified derivatives. 
Rules for the labelling of genetically modified food products are provided by Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 September 2003 on genetically modified food and feed and the related national regulations, The Genetically Modified Food (England) Regulations 2004. There are no current plans to change the labelling of genetically modified food under these regulations.
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The Regulations require that foods, which contain or consist of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), or are produced from or contain ingredients from GMOs, are labelled as containing or consisting of genetically modified ingredients. This includes ingredients such as glucose syrup, maize flour and soya oil.
Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment she has made of the impact upon (a) existing brands and (b) consumer confidence of the proposed regulation of nutrition and health claims on food packaging and the prohibition of endorsements from healthcare professionals; and whether compensation will be available to businesses adversely affected. 
Caroline Flint: The introduction of new safeguards is expected to increase consumer confidence in claims made for food products and to help consumers when making healthy eating choices. A partial regulatory impact assessment (RIA) on the impact of this proposed European Parliament and Council Regulation is available in the Library. This is being revised in light of the latest position and comments from interested parties.
During the first reading stage of the negotiations, the United Kingdom played a key role in securing deletion of various proposed bans on health claims. A prohibition on endorsements by individual healthcare professionals in labelling and advertising remains in the text and officials are exploring the potential impact of this prohibition on existing claims. Some stakeholders have expressed concern that this ban would apply to all advice by healthcare professionals However, only claims made in commercial communications would be affected.
Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what consideration she has given to the way in which the Food Standards Agency should assess which charitable and healthcare organisations should be permitted to give endorsements to food products under the proposed regulation of nutrition and health claims made on food; what assessment she has made of the impact of this new regulation on the incomes of charities; and if she will make a statement. 
Caroline Flint: The original proposal for an European Commission regulation on nutrition and health claims made on food sought to ban claims which referred to the advice of doctors or other health professionals, or their professional associations, or charities. The partial regulatory impact assessment recognised that this would seriously affect a number of charities and helped to inform United Kingdom policy. The UK was largely responsible for overturning this aspect of the proposal during the first reading stage of negotiation, in favour of control of endorsements or recommendations being left to national rules.
It is intended to introduce best practice guidelines to the food industry, medical associations and health charities, but there are no plans to introduce a list of charities or healthcare organisations permitted to make recommendations or endorsements of food products. The Food Standards Agency expects to consult on the guidelines before the regulation is adopted.
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