Laxatives: Young People

Department of Health written question – answered on 16th December 2014.

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Photo of Jim Shannon Jim Shannon Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Health), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Transport), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Human Rights)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what steps he is taking to monitor and control the use of laxatives for teenage children.

Photo of George Freeman George Freeman The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is the body responsible for regulating all medicines in the United Kingdom on behalf of health ministers. MHRA keeps under review the safety of all medicines in use and where necessary takes appropriate action to safeguard public health. Medicines containing laxatives are currently available without a prescription.

The risk of abuse of laxatives has been considered by the MHRA and its independent expert advisory body – the Commission on Human Medicines (CHM). The CHM has previously advised that restrictions on the current availability of stimulant laxatives were not justified by the data then available. However, CHM has now recommended that stronger warnings should be added to the information accompanying these medicines emphasizing that laxatives do not aid weight loss and that taking them regularly for a long time is harmful.

MHRA is working with marketing authorisation holders of stimulant laxative products to introduce these new warnings. MHRA will continue to monitor the safety in use of non-prescription laxatives and will take further action if necessary.

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