asked the Lord President of the Council what distribution of penicillin has been made by the appropriate committee of the Medical Research Council; upon what date or dates and to what aim were the quantities directed, respectively; was any particular test or condition excluded owing to shortage of supply; which of the recipient centres has published any Report of its work in this connection; and has it yet been considered by him.
Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that every step is being taken to speed up the production of this valuable commodity, to keep it out of monopolistic hands and to make it generally available?
The Penicillin Clinical Trials Committee appointed by the Medical Research Council is responsible for the distribution only of the part of the penicillin supply which is allocated for research in this country, the remaining and larger part is going to the Forces overseas. The total quantity distributed by the Committee up to the end of March, 1944, was about five hundred million units, of which about four hundred and twenty million units were divided between the hospitals in Oxford, London and Edinburgh chosen as the main centres for clinical trial. The Committee has also provided smaller supplies for specific clinical purposes to fourteen other centres in this country; and sixteen further projects for particular forms of study were approved at a recent meeting. The aim of these clinical trials is to treat cases under controlled conditions in order to determine the value of penicillin in different diseases and the best methods of its use. No proposals for any promising investigation has been rejected owing to shortage of supply. In some of the institutions work has not been in progress for long enough to justify publication of results, but several reports have been issued and others are in prospect. As I stated in reply to a question by the hon. Member on 19th April, a full account of the work at one of the main centres was published in the "British Medical Journal" on 15th April. Such reports are of a technical nature and are more for the consideration of the medical profession than of Ministers.