Forty one clinics currently have such an authority. The drugs concerned—diethylpropion, phentermine and mazindol—are controlled under schedule 3 to the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 1985 by reason of their dependence-forming properties and liability to misuse. The clinics have been informed that against a background of recent authoritative medical opinion, which assigns a severely restricted role to these drugs in the treatment of obesity, existing authorities will not be renewed on their expiry. Some 20 applications by new clinics have been refused.
I welcome my hon. Friend's splendid statement. Does he agree that not just amphetamines but other drugs have no role to play in slimming and that it is merely a question of eating less? The current fad is the melt-down diet where, alas, the only thing that melts down as one watches one's friends eating buttered toast in the Members' Smoking Room is one's will power. None the less, my sex being ultra-sensitive about their shape and size, they are extra gullible about slimming. My hon. Friend should make every effort to continue to control slimming drugs and slimming advertisements because they are all totally useless.
I think that it would be offensive of me to say that I shall consult my hon. Friend about the wisdom of what she has said. I can say from personal experience that less whisky and less butter does one a lot of good.
Will my hon. Friend give an assurance to the House that he will continue to monitor the supply of appetite-suppressant drugs and that, if he feels that further measures are necessary, he will not hesitate to take them? Does he agree that the simple message that should he sent to the general public is that it is better to have a hearty appetite and be somewhat overweight than to be on drugs?
It is very bad to be on drugs unless they are absolutely clinically necessary. In the case of the three drugs that I mentioned earlier, they are habit-forming and should be used only in cases of extreme obesity. It was unsatisfactory that a number of the clinics by which they were prescribed should have had a direct interest in their prescription.