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The Minister of State, Department of Health (Baroness Jay of Paddington): A complete list of the financial interests declared by members of the Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment (COT) was published in the 1995 committee annual report. A copy of this report has been placed in the Library. The 1996 annual report is due to be published later this year. A copy of the draft list of financial interests declared by COT members for the relevant period has also been placed in the Library.
Baroness Jay of Paddington: The paper by Rodgers and Ellefson relates to findings in laboratory mice receiving oral malathion to the environmental exposure of humans to malathion through insecticide spraying. Some people may suffer allergic reactions to malathion-containing medicinal products and the product information contains warnings about the use of these products in patients who are sensitive to the ingredients. We are not aware of any research being undertaken in the United Kingdom into malathion.
Baroness Jay of Paddington: The New Jersey Department of Health fact sheet relates to occupational exposure to malathion--mainly long term chronic exposure or acute exposure to toxic doses of malathion. This is not relevant to the use of malathion in medicinal use and there is no evidence that users of licensed medicinal products containing malathion have experienced serious adverse effects. Product information for shampoos an lotions containing malathion warns against prolonged use (for example, stating that it should not be used more than once a week and for not more than three consecutive weeks).
Whether they are aware of several research papers which indicate that organophosphates are liable to be absorbed in larger quantities through the skin of scalp, face and scrotum than other parts of the body, and whether they are satisfied that the tests conducted to determine the safe exposure limits to these chemicals in louse and scabies treatments containing organophosphates adequately reflect this property.
Baroness Jay of Paddington: The Medicines Control Agency and Committee on Safety of Medicines are reviewing the evidence provided by "World in Action", and will consider the need for further studies or changes in the recommendations for use. Malathion is absorbed slowly through human skin and is rapidly detoxified in the blood and there is no evidence that people exposed to malathion through the use of head-lice and scabies treatments have experienced serious adverse effects. Product information for shampoos and lotions containing malathion warns against prolonged use (for example, stating that it should not be used more than once a week and for not more than three consecutive weeks). The papers referred to regarding organophosphate absorption relate to occupational exposure to malathion, that is long term chronic exposure or acute exposure to toxic doses. The safety limits advised for occupational exposure are not relevant to the medicinal use of malathion.
Baroness Jay of Paddington: There are no plans to carry out such a survey because population studies are not suitable to determine the ability of children and adults to utilise vitamins, minerals and trace elements. The Department of Health and the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food jointly commission a series of national diet and nutrition surveys of children and adults. Each survey collects detailed information on lifestyle characteristics, intakes of food and nutrients and blood levels of many vitamins, minerals and trace elements. The same surveys are used to estimate the exposure to pesticides and chemical pollutants of the subjects.
Baroness Jay of Paddington: The reference nutrient intake (RNI) is the amount of a nutrient which is sufficient, or more than sufficient, to meet the nutritional needs of practically all healthy people. The scientific basis for the establishment of reference nutrient intakes can be found in the Committee on Medical Aspects of Food and Nutrition Policy report "Dietary Reference Values for Food Energy and Nutrients for the United Kingdom" published in 1991. A copy of this report is available in the Library.
Baroness Jay of Paddington: Between 27 April 1968, when the Abortion Act 1967 came into operation, and 31 March 1997, the latest quarter for which figures are available, the total number of abortions performed in Great Britain was 4,673,674. The figures requested for human embryos are not routinely collected. However, on the basis of information provided by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority last year, the number of embryos that were neither frozen nor used for treatment or other purposes between 1 August 1991 and 31 December 1994 was 90,491.
Further to the Written Answer given by Lord Donoughue on 30 July (WA 54), whether all the 649 adverse reaction reports to products containing vitamin B6 between 1964 and 1997 were confined to the United Kingdom, and if not, from which other countries were reports included; and
Whether any of the fatalities associated with vitamin B6 were associated with patients suffering from tuberculosis and receiving isoniazid.
Baroness Jay of Paddington: A Drug Analysis Print (DAP), listing signs and symptoms associated with all suspected reactions reported to the Committee on Safety of Medicines between 1 July 1963 and 30 July 1997 for products containing vitamin B6 has been placed in the Library along with an information sheet to aid interpretation.
The 411 reactions now reported to have occurred in this period (one further report of a reaction during this period has been received) originated from 160 spontaneous reports. Of these 11 reports had more than one drug listed as suspected to have caused the reaction, 78 reports had details of other medications not suspected to be related to the reaction, and five included information on pre-existing conditions. Clinical investigations are at the discretion of the reporting physician.
There was one fatality associated with vitamin B6 in a patient suffering from tuberculosis, who was receiving a combination of rifampicin and isoniazid.
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