§ Mr. Shersby
To ask the Secretary of State for Health to what extent liquid paraffin oil is now used as a laxative; what information her Department has concerning any adverse effects on human health arising from the regular use of this medicine; whether any advice has been given to pharmacists concerning dosage and duration of use; and if she will make a statement.
§ Dr. Mawhinney
Preparations containing liquid paraffin for use as laxatives are only indicated for the symptomatic relief of constipation. Prolonged regular use may be associated with inflammatory lesions in the gastrointestinal tract, lipoid pneumonia due to inadvertent inhalation and interference with absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. The Committee on Safety of Medicines issued advice regarding the use of liquid paraffin in its bulletin Current Problems Number 28, sent to all doctors and pharmacists in May 1990, a copy of which is available in the Library. The CSM advice is also included in the British National Formulary, which the Department issues free of charge to all prescribers twice yearly.
Preparations containing liquid paraffin for use as laxatives are not available directly to the public and may only be bought from pharmacies under the supervision of a pharmacist, where the pack size which may be sold is limited to 160 ml, approximately one week's supply. Prolonged use is not advised and these preparations are contra-indicated for children under three years of age. Package labels clearly state thatrepeated use is not recommended
andto consult your doctor if laxatives are needed every day, if you have persistent abdominal pain or a condition which makes swallowing difficult".