Clause 7. — (Removal of Hardships.)

Part of Orders of the Day — National Health Service (Amendment) Bill – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 9th December 1949.

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Photo of Mr Philip Piratin Mr Philip Piratin , Stepney Mile End 12:00 am, 9th December 1949

Thank you very much. Let me give this example. "Dexadrine," which I understand is a very useful drug, was first introduced by Menley and James under the trade mark "Dexadrine" at 126s. per thousand. The same tablets were shortly afterwards marketed under their scientific name by Ward Blenkinsop—no relation, I trust, of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health—at 31s. per thousand. Within the last few weeks, according to my information, Boots have marketed the same preparation at 8s. 6d. per thousand—one-fifteenth of their original price.

I will give an example in connection with price fixing to show what could have been done in this sphere if the Minister had put his foot down, as he could have done four years ago, thus saving plenty of money for the Exchequer. Procaine-penicillin, a very important drug, was first sold on the market in this country by I.C. (Pharmaceuticals) at 44s.' a phial. A few weeks later it was sold by Glaxo Laboratories at 32s. As a result of negotiations between the firms interested and Allen & Hanburys, the price was ultimately fixed at 36s. There is an example of what under capitalism would be called useful competition, one firm undercutting another, followed however by a combination of the competitors, a cartel, who decided on a figure of 36s.—4s. above the price of the most efficient manufacturer.

If the Chancellor wishes to save money, and the Minister of Health, in asking the House to agree to this Lords Amendment today, acknowledges that part of the reason for the Lords Amendment is the economic position, there is plenty of scope on the part of the Exchequer for cutting down expenditure. These are some of the grounds which I seek to place before the House. I hope that on these grounds, in addition to the very good points put forward earlier, the Minister will not press this Lords Amendment; otherwise I trust that many hon. Members will vote against it.