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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Colleagues rally round Shipman scapegoats

·MP to press ministers over U-turn on over-the-counter safety rulings

·Calls in parliament to make yellow card scheme compulsory for GPs

An MP is planning to table a question in parliament demanding answers on why the drug safety watchdog had performed a U-turn on its assessments of two medicines.

Dr Ian Gibson MP, chair of the select committee on science and technology, will press ministers to explain why the Committee on Safety of Medicines withdrew minutes rejecting applications for an ophthalmic antibiotic and a drug for primary dysmenorrhoea to move over-the-counter.

As Pulse revealed last week, the committee originally said it had 'safety concerns' over both applications but the Department of Health blamed a 'drafting error' and denied a decision had been made.

Dr Gibson, Labour MP for Norwich North, said: 'It's extremely surprising that people can get minutes that wrong. I find it very suspicious and I will get to the bottom of it.'

He said the CSM's lack of transparency was 'a scandal waiting to happen' and criticised the Government's OTC drive for not being based on good evidence, expressing particular doubts over the wisdom of including antibiotics.

The CSM came under further fire from MPs for failing to ensure that yellow card data was properly used to safeguard the public's health. Some MPs said GPs should be legally obliged to fill in yellow card reports.

Paul Burstow MP, Liberal Democrat health spokesperson, told parliament it should be mandatory for GPs to fill in forms because adverse events were significantly under-reported. He said forms should be made simpler to reduce workload and the CSM had to act on the safety data it received in order to increase GPs' faith in the system.

The GPC rejected calls to make submitting yellow card data mandatory and said GPs should be paid for filling in forms instead.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, member of the GPC prescribing subcommittee, said: 'The Government needs to enable and incentivise GPs. It can take time to fill in the form properly.'

By Emma Wilkinson

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