Pharmaceutical Manufacturers (Voluntary Price Scheme)

Oral Answers to Questions — Hospitals – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 6th July 1964.

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Photo of Mr Kenneth Robinson Mr Kenneth Robinson , St Pancras North 12:00 am, 6th July 1964

asked the Minister of Health if he will insist, in negotiating renewal of the Voluntary Price Regulation Scheme, upon full disclosure by individual pharmaceutical manufacturers of such research and manufacturing costs, profit margins, and sales promotion expenditure as may be required by his Department; and if he will take steps to ensure that any new agreement has a maximum duration of three years, subject to six months' notice.

Photo of Mr Anthony Barber Mr Anthony Barber , Doncaster

I hope that a new scheme will be agreed at a meeting which is taking place today, and I have noted the hon. Gentleman's points.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Robinson Mr Kenneth Robinson , St Pancras North

Would the right hon. Gentleman not agree that, in the absence of the kind of information referred to in the first part of the Question, he will be negotiating prices of individual drugs with one hand tied behind his back—if that is possible? Would he not also agree that his hand in these negotiations on the agreement ought to have been strengthened by the assurance, which I now repeat, that in the event of a change of Government we would not necessarily feel bound by an agreement which we did not consider adequately safeguarded the taxpayers' interests?

Photo of Mr Anthony Barber Mr Anthony Barber , Doncaster

In reply to the first part of the supplementary question, compulsory powers for obtaining information are contained in the Emergency Laws (Repeal) Act, 1959, and are continued in the Emergency Laws (Re-enactments and Repeals) Bill which has just received its Third Reading. The Act provides, in general terms, for the undertakings concerned with medical supplies to furnish such informaton as may be prescribed.

With regard to the second point in the supplementary question, which drew a mild cheer from the hon. Gentleman's supporters, I think I know what is worrying the hon. Gentleman. I can assure him that nothing in the agreement would prevent the Labour Party from implementing their declared policy of gradually nationalising the pharmaceutical industry if the British public should clamour for such a disastrous course.

Photo of Mr Julian Snow Mr Julian Snow , Lichfield and Tamworth

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that if he does not investigate the difference between basic research and development research he may unconsciously be subscribing to claims for original discovery which bear no relationship to the facts because of the limited amount of basic research in this country? Is he further aware that he will be well advised to investigate the sources of income of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry wherein he may discover that there are unnecessarily suspicious sorts of contribution?

Photo of Mr Anthony Barber Mr Anthony Barber , Doncaster

I think, with respect, that the powers which the Minister of Health will be taking in the Emergency Laws (Re-enactments and Repeals) Bill, which has received its Third Reading, will be adequate to achieve what we all desire.