Pharmaceutical Industry

Oral Answers to Questions — Ministry of Health – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 1st August 1966.

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Photo of Mr Nigel Fisher Mr Nigel Fisher , Surbiton 12:00 am, 1st August 1966

asked the Minister of Health what study he has made of the recent report prepared by the pharmaceutical industry, a copy of which has been sent to him, which draws attention to the relative stability of drug prices and to the contribution made by the industry to medical research and to the export trade; and whether he will make a statement regarding these facts.

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

I have no doubt that these are among the matters being considered by the Committee of Inquiry into the Relationship of the Pharmaceutical Industry with the National Health Service.

Photo of Mr Nigel Fisher Mr Nigel Fisher , Surbiton

Can the right hon. Gentleman confirm that research expenditure by the industry is now running at over £10 million a year, that one in ten of its employees is engaged actively on research, that the industry's exports are running at over £70 million a year and increasing rapidly even now, and that these exports have risen by, I believe, 8½ per cent. in the first four months of this year compared with last year? Is this not a considerable achievement?

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

I would not like to confirm or deny the hon. Gentleman's statistics off-the-cuff. It would be unwise for me to express an opinion as to the significance of these matters pending the report of the Sainsbury Committee.

Photo of Bernard Braine Bernard Braine , Essex South East

Surely the Minister is aware of the highly creditable performance of the industry in the export sphere? Does he not agree that the increase quoted by my hon. Friend is well known—that in the first four months of this year the industry increased its exports by about 8½ per cent. compared with last year—and surely, particularly at this time, the right hon. Gentleman should give credit where credit is due to an important industry?

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

I have never minimised the credit that is due to the pharmaceutical industry as a contributor to the export drive. I am happy to reaffirm that. I was merely unwilling to confirm off the cuff the figures which the hon. Gentleman quoted.

Photo of Dr Shirley Summerskill Dr Shirley Summerskill , Halifax

Would my right hon. Friend not agree that there is a strong case for considering that the pharmaceutical industry, as a health industry, should be under public ownership, in view of the fact that the chief yardstick of success in the pharmaceutical industry appears to be making a profit out of ill-health?

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

The terms of reference of the Sainsbury Committee are very wide, and I do not think the matter to which my hon. Friend has alluded would be excluded from them.