Select Committee on Science and Technology Sixth Report


The House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology has appointed a Sub-Committee, chaired by Baroness Finlay of Llandaff, to investigate allergy and allergic diseases. The inquiry will address all types of allergy and cover a full range of policy issues. However, the inquiry will not focus primarily on allergy service provision, which was the subject of recent reports by the House of Commons Health Committee and the Department of Health.[155]

The Committee invites evidence on all aspects of allergy, and in particular on the following questions:

Defining the problem

  • What is allergy? What is the difference between allergy and intolerance?
  • What is and what is not known about the origins and progression of allergic disease?
  • Why is the incidence of allergy and allergic diseases rising? Why does the UK in particular have such high prevalence of allergy?
  • What gaps exist in establishing the overall disease burden for all types of allergy and what are the barriers to filling these gaps?
  • In addition to the impact on the health service, what is the overall socio-economic impact of allergic diseases (for example, absence from work and schools)?

Treatment and management

  • What is the effect of current treatments on the natural history of allergic disease?
  • What is the evidence-base for pharmacological and non-pharmacological management strategies?
  • Is the level of UK research into allergy and allergic disease adequate?
  • What are the most promising areas of research into preventing or treating allergy?

Government policies

  • How effective have existing Government policy and advice been in addressing the rise in allergies?
  • How is current knowledge about the causes and management of allergic disease shared within Government? For example,
    • Do housing policy and regulations governing the indoor environment pay enough attention to allergy?
    • How effectively are food policy and food labelling regulations responding to the rise in food allergies?

Patient and consumer issues

  • What impact do allergies have on the quality of life of those experiencing allergic disease and their families?
  • What can be done to better educate the public and to improve the quality of information that is available to patients and undiagnosed sufferers?
  • Are current regulatory arrangements, for example, those governing private clinics offering diagnostic and therapeutic services and the sale of over the counter allergy tests, satisfactory?

155  op cit. Health Committee, 6th Report (2003-04): The Provision of Allergy Services (HC 696-1) and op cit. DH A review of services for allergyBack

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