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Written Statements

Monday 12 June 2006


 
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Cancer: Herceptin

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Lord Warner): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Health has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

On 24 May Roche, the manufacturers of Herceptin (trastuzumab), announced that the European Commission had granted a licence extension for Herceptin to include use in patients with HER2-positive early breast cancer.

On 9 June the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) published its draft guidance on Herceptin. It recommends the drug for women with early-stage HER2-positive breast cancer, except where there are concerns about cardiac function. The full draft recommendations are as follows:

These recommendations are subject to an appeal period, which closes on 28 June 2006. During this period registered stakeholder organisations, including those representing healthcare professionals, patients and carers, can appeal against the draft guidance. Final guidance is expected to be issued at the beginning of July 2006, assuming that there are no appeals.

Once finalised, the recommendations will mean that all eligible patients with early-stage HER2-positive breast cancer should receive Herceptin on the NHS. Although the recommendations are subject to appeal,
 
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there are no national restrictions on the NHS using Herceptin in the interim, and the draft recommendations should, of course, be taken into account by primary care trusts.

I would like to congratulate NICE on issuing its draft recommendations on Herceptin just two weeks after the drug was licensed for use in early breast cancer. This shows how the new single-technology appraisal process allows NICE to issue guidance within weeks of a licence being granted.

The important thing now is for NHS cancer networks to ensure that all women diagnosed with early breast cancer receive a HER2 test to determine if they are HER2 positive and might therefore benefit from treatment with Herceptin.

Professor Mike Richards, the national cancer director, is already working with cancer networks to ensure that testing arrangements are put in place. I am expecting an update from Professor Richards next week and I will ensure that both Houses receive a report on progress soon afterwards.

Control Orders

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department (John Reid) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Section 14(1) of the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 (the 2005 Act) requires me to report to Parliament as soon as reasonably practicable after the end of every relevant three-month period on the exercise of the control order powers during that period.

During the period 11 March to 10 June 2006, three orders were made with the permission of the court under Section 3(1)(a) of the 2005 Act—two in respect of British citizens, on 5 April and 24 May 2006, and one in respect of a foreign national, on 16 May 2006. There are 14 control orders currently in force, five of which are in respect of British citizens.

One request to modify a control order obligation was refused during the period. A right of appeal exists in Section 10(3) of the 2005 Act against a decision by the Secretary of State not to modify an obligation contained in a control order. This has not been exercised in respect of this refusal.

Coroner Reform Bill

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): My right honourable friend the Minister of State has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

On 6 February, I announced my intention to publish a draft Bill to reform the coroner system in England and Wales (Official Report, House of Commons, col. 608). The draft Bill will be laid and published
 
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today, and will also be available on the departmental website (www.dca.gov.uk/legist.htm). The draft Bill will be subject to pre-legislative scrutiny by the Constitutional Affairs Select Committee, and I am arranging for a separate strand of pre-legislative scrutiny by families who have recent experience of the coroners' service, which will assist honourable Members in their scrutiny of the Bill.

Education: Northern Ireland

Lord Rooker: My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Maria Eagle) has made the following ministerial Statement.

In December 2005 the draft Education (Northern Ireland) Order was published for consultation. Following consideration of the responses to the consultation and the views expressed to me in a series of meetings with key interests in Northern Ireland, I have laid the draft order before the House today.

Copies of the draft order and Explanatory Memorandum, together with copies of a summary of the responses to the consultation on the draft Education (Northern Ireland) Order, which sets out the Government's response to the consultation, have been made available to the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office.

EU: Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Lord Warner): My right honourable friend the Minister of State (Rosie Winterton) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council met on 1 and 2 June. The health issues were taken on 2 June. Items on the main agenda were: the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending directive 95/2/EC on food additives other than colours and sweeteners and directive 94/35/EC on sweeteners for use in foodstuffs; women's health; promotion of healthy lifestyles and prevention of type 2 diabetes; common values and principles in EU health systems; review of the EU Strategy for Sustainable Development; pandemic influenza preparedness and planning; combating HIV/AIDS; the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on advanced therapy medicinal products and amending directive 2001/83/EC and regulation (EC) No. 726/2004; and the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending council directives 90/385/EEC and 93/42/EEC and directive 98/8/EC of the European Parliament and the Council as regards the review of the medical devices directives.

The council adopted the amendments to the additives and sweeteners directives by qualified-majority voting. The UK voted in favour of these.
 
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Council conclusions were adopted on women's health, and promotion of healthy lifestyles and prevention of type 2 diabetes.

Council conclusions were also adopted on common values and principles in EU health systems. The UK expressed particular support for these, which build on conclusions agreed under the Irish presidency in 2004, reminding the European institutions of the importance of safeguarding the values and principles that underpin EU health systems in their work.

There was a policy debate on the review of the EU Sustainable Development Strategy. Key themes included: recognition that improved health contributes to economic growth, addressing health inequalities, and the importance of the global dimension in promoting health in less developed countries. The UK spoke about the significant role employers could play in providing healthy workplaces and the value of sharing strategies for improving mental health.

There was an exchange of views on the Commission communication on combating HIV/AIDS in the EU and in neighbouring countries. The communication received broad support and there was wide recognition of the need to focus on prevention activities, especially among at-risk groups. The UK emphasised the need for the EU to take HIV/AIDS into account in its near-neighbourhood policies and funding.

There was a lunchtime discussion on pandemic influenza preparedness.

The council received information from the presidency on progress in the ongoing discussions of the council pharmaceutical working group on the directives on advanced therapy medical products and medical devices.

Under "any other business", the council heard a report from the presidency on the European Parliament's vote on 16 May that allowed a second reading agreement on the proposed regulation on nutrition and health claims on food, and on the proposed regulation on the addition of vitamins and minerals and other substances to food. Both regulations will come back to the council for adoption once the administrative processes to ensure legal and linguistic consistency have been completed.


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