Mr. Ted Garrett
To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the improvements in health care arising from the developments in biotechnology.
§ Mrs. Virginia Bottomley
Advances in biotechnology have made available novel or improved treatments for a wide range of diseases. It is now possible to produce a number of therapeutic compounds in large quantities that were hitherto very difficult to obtain. The following list, 77W which is by no means exhaustive, gives an indication of biotechnology-derived products already on the market; human insulin for the treatment of diabetes; vaccines for hepatitis B; human growth hormone for the treatment of dwarfism; and alpha-interferon for the treatment of, for example, certain leukaemias.
Other improvements in health care include the development of more rapid, sensitive tests for the diagnosis of a wide variety of microbial diseases. Also, there are increasing applications in the area of clinical genetics for the greater precision that is now possible in the detection of those at risk from genetic diseases. In addition, we now have a real prospect of providing treatment for certain of the inherited diseases, although this is still some time away.