Written Answers. - National Drugs Advisory Board Remit.

Eric J. Byrne

Question:

246 Mr. E. Byrne asked the Minister for Health if he will extend the remit of the National Drugs Advisory Board to include advising GPs on prescribing procedures and on the variety of drugs available in view of recent research which indicates that some drugs may be overprescribed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1172/94]

The primary function of the National Drugs Advisory Board is to advise the Minister for Health in relation to the licensing of medicines, including advice as to the particular status of a medicine, that is, whether a medicine should be classified as a prescription only product, a pharmacy only product or a product available for general sale. It has no function in relation to the prescribing practices of medical practitioners and I do not propose to ask it to take on such a role.

Following on the recommendations of the National Therapeutics Advisory Committee which advises me on all aspects of prescribing, I have recently established a National Medicines Information Centre at St. James's Hospital. This centre will provide independent information to health professionals on the rational prescribing of medicine. The centre will be paying particular attention to the provision of information to general practitioners.