Health written question – answered on 21st March 2007.

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Photo of Howard Stoate Howard Stoate Labour, Dartford

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans she has to ensure the safe and secure availability of diamorphine for the treatment of patients with serious or terminal conditions; and if she will make a statement.

Photo of Caroline Flint Caroline Flint Minister of State (Department of Health) (Public Health)

Both suppliers of diamorphine to the United Kingdom are working to their full available capacity, and are supplying the market on a regular and frequent basis. They are currently unable to produce enough to meet historic demand, although that demand may have changed due to changes in prescribing practice. We expect the situation to improve during 2007, and in the meantime we believe that through careful prescribing and use of available stocks, patient care is not being compromised. This is in part because we arranged for the increased production and availability of alternative drugs such as morphine when the problem arose in December 2004.

The amount of diamorphine held in the supply chain at any one time varies, according to a number of factors including the manufacturers' production schedules. All presentations are currently available.

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