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Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent estimate she has made of the number of people suffering from cancer who have been denied drugs on account of their cost; and if she will make a statement. 
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, an independent body, was set up to make decisions on the clinical and cost effectiveness of technologies based on the latest evidence. It determines whether a drug is sufficiently effective to justify the cost in the context of a finite health budget. A report published by the National Cancer Director last year, Uptake of NICE approved cancer drugs, confirmed that the uptake of new cancer drugs by the national
health service increases and variation in use around the country reduces following a positive NICE appraisal.
The Department has reiterated in recent good practice guidance that the NHS should not withhold funding for treatments just because NICE guidance is not available. In this instance, primary care trusts should make their decisions based on the available evidence.
Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment she has made of regional variations in England in the treatment of cancer, with particular reference to the prescribing of drugs; and if she will make a statement. 
Ms Rosie Winterton [holding answer 15 May 2007]: In June 2004, Professor Mike Richards, the National Cancer Director published Variations in usage of cancer drugs approved by NICE. This report showed that a positive appraisal of a cancer drug by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) was usually followed by increased overall usage of that drug but that there was variation in usage of NICE approved drugs between cancer networks.
In July 2006, Professor Richards published a follow-up report, Usage of cancer drugs approved by NICE, to confirm if the variations identified had been reduced. This report showed improvements with a continued increase in uptake of cancer drugs following a positive NICE appraisal (a 47 per cent. increase in cancer drug use since the last review) and a reduction in variation between cancer networks in usage of all NICE approved cancer drugs.
Andy Burnham: Any decision regarding the closure of the Peter Bruff Ward at Clacton hospital is a matter for the local national health service, which has the responsibility for the configuration and delivery of local services, working in partnership with the communities it serves.
Ms Rosie Winterton: On 24 January 2007, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) issued guidance to the national health service on the use of Cetuximab for the treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer.
NICE'S guidance did not recommend Cetuximab as a treatment option for metastatic colorectal cancer. However, the guidance states that patients who were receiving Cetuximab should have the option to continue to do so until they and their consultants decide that it is the right time to stop treatment.
It will be for individual primary care trusts to decide whether to fund Cetuximab for the treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer in the light of NICE'S recommendations. It would be inappropriate for ministers to intervene.
Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the cost to her Department was of commissioning an external consultant to undertake an equality impact assessment on departmental restructuring; and what conclusions were reached. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 placed a duty on all public authorities to address issues of racial inequality. The Department is a public authority under the meaning of this Act and is required by law to undertake race equality impact assessments. One such assessment was carried out by an external contractor to ensure independence and impartiality in 2004-05 at a cost of £10,125 to the Department following its major change programme of 2003-04. This assessed the impact of a significant restructuring programme across the whole Department. The conclusions are summarised in an executive summary, a copy of which has been placed in the Library. The Department continues to take action to ensure an ongoing commitment to equality is embedded within the organisation.
Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many press briefings have been held by her Department since May 2005; what the subject of each press briefing was; and whether representatives of (a) the Daily Mail, (b) the Daily Express and (c) The Daily Telegraph were invited in each case. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis:
There have been 67 press briefings on a range of subjects since May 2005 and these are listed as follows. In each case, an operational note was
sent to news organisations inviting them to the briefing. This includes representatives of The Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail and Daily Express.
Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will list the companies which have been prosecuted by the Food Standards Agency since 2001 in respect of which no further legal proceedings are active; what the reasons were for prosecution in each case; and what penalty was imposed. 
Caroline Flint: [holding answer 14 May 2007]: The following is a list of the companies that have been successfully prosecuted by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) since the end of 2001 in respect of which no further legal proceedings are active, the legislation under which the companies were prosecuted and the penalties which were imposed.
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