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Medicopolitical digestDrug companies face new controlsTreatment of NHS staff variesHealthy lifestyle will improve bone healthBMA loses challenge to new criteria for consultant status

BMJ 1998; 317 doi: (Published 05 December 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;317:1598

Drug companies face new controls

In the debate on the Queen's Speech last week the health secretary, Mr Frank Dobson, outlined the main provisions in the proposed NHS bill (28 November, p 1474), and added two further legislative changes.

The first is to seek reserve powers to reinforce the pharmaceutical price review, under which the NHS negotiates prices with the drug companies. Mr Dobson said that he hoped to retain the voluntary nature of the new agreement, which met the legislative objectives of the companies as well as those of the NHS. The reserve powers would have no significant impact on the vast majority of companies, but were directed at a small number of maverick companies whose failure to comply with the agreement was costing the NHS £28m this year.

A separate Road Traffic (NHS Charges) Bill will make it easier for hospitals to collect money from insurance companies that they have been entitled to collect since the 1930s. Estimates of revenue lost to the NHS varied from £30m to £500m, Mr Dobson said. The emergency treatment fee of £21.30 will be abolished, but in cases where a motor …

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