§ Mr. Peter Bradley
To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what data his Department has collated from the English health authorities as to the impact on their drugs budgets of the recent shortages and rising prices of generic drugs over the last 12 months; and if he will publish such information as he has received; 
(2) what assessment he has made of the anticipated impact on the NHS drugs budget of (a) the shortage and (b) rising prices of generic drugs over the last 12 months; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Denham
Our best estimate is that the combined effect on this year's drugs budget of price increases and the need to dispense more expensive drugs when cheaper generics are in short supply is of the order of £160 million, around 0.5 per cent. of the total resources allocated to health authorities this year. While the National Health Service should be able to cope with such pressures, it is clear that
The net ingredient cost for thyroxine sodium preparations dispensed in the community, 1994 to 1998, and 1999 (January to June) England £000 Drug name 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 Eltroxin Tab 50mcg 53.0 46.9 42.1 54.6 48.8 21.8 Eltroxin Tab 100mcg 45.3 39.9 36.0 41.7 37.8 17.4 Thyroxine Sod Tab 100mcg 341.9 338.1 350.8 456.7 992.6 3,739.6 Thyroxine Sod Tab 50mcg 402.7 392.9 405.4 548.7 1,088.7 2,637.4 Thyroxine Sod Tab 25mcg 457.2 625.4 1,069.3 1,404.5 1,668.9 1,536.2 Thyroxine Sod Oral Liq @spec 11.1 — — — — — Thyroxine Sod Liq Spec 75mcg/5ml — 2.7 3.3 — — — Thyroxine Sod Liq Spec 50mcg/5ml — 9.5 11.9 18.7 18.2 13.1 Thyroxine Sod Liq Spec 100mcg/5ml — 5.1 9.6 10.4 18.1 11.2 Thyroxine Sod Liq Spec 125mcg/5ml — 4.5 5.1 7.2 11.7 5.1
the arrangements for the supply of generic medicines which have served the NHS well for many years have failed us this year. We have taken action on three fronts. First, we are seeking to improve the situation in the short term by making changes to the present arrangements—for example the rules which determine for the purposes of paying pharmacies whether a generic is in short supply. Second, we asked the Office of Fair Trading in August to investigate whether the current situation raises any competition issues. Third, we are setting up a fundamental review of the current arrangements to see whether there are alternative ways of supplying the NHS with generics which would better ensure consistency of supply at reasonable prices.