Access to Medical Treatments (Innovation) Bill
In 2015 Mr Heaton-Harris introduced the Access to Medical Treatments (Innovation) Bill to the House of Commons as a private members' bill. Prior to the details of the Bill being published, a statement on the Medical Innovation Bill website indicated that it was related to the Lord Saatchi's much-criticised Medical Innovation Bill.
A first draft of the Access to Medical Treatments (Innovation) Bill was made available in September 2015 and consisted of two main sections: paragraph 2 to allow the Health Secretary to establish a database of "innovative medical treatments carried out by doctors", and paragraphs 3 and 4 to establish one possible way that a doctor could deviate from accepted medical treatments without being considered legally negligent (specifically, by consulting with at least one other doctor). Paragraphs 3 and 4 of the Bill were largely derived from Lord Saatchi's Medical Innovation Bill, a Bill that had received strong criticism and/or opposition from a wide range of medical and patient organisations including the British Medical Association, the Royal College of General Practitioners, Cancer Research UK, the Motor Neuron Disease Association, and the Patients Association.
For more information about the objections to both Mr Heaton-Harris's and Lord Saatchi's Medical Innovation Bills see http://www.stopthesaatchibill.co.uk/.
Pharmaceutical Trial Data/Tamiflu
Chris Heaton-Harris was a member of the Public Accounts Committee for their report "Access to clinical trial information and the stockpiling of Tamiflu", published January 2014. The report minutes show that he attended both the oral evidence session and the meeting approving the report. The summary of the report reads:
- The Department of Health (the Department) spent £424 million on stockpiling Tamiflu, an antiviral medicine used in the treatment of influenza, for use in a pandemic, but had to write off £74 million of its Tamiflu stockpile as a result of poor record-keeping by the NHS.
- There is a lack of consensus over how well Tamiflu works, in particular whether it reduces complications and mortality. Discussions over this issue among professionals have been hampered because important information about clinical trials is routinely and legally withheld from doctors and researchers by manufacturers. This longstanding regulatory and cultural failure impacts on all of medicine, and undermines the ability of clinicians, researchers and patients to make informed decisions about which treatment is best. There are also concerns about the information made available to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) which assesses a medicine's clinical and cost-effectiveness for use in the NHS.
Ben Goldacre, author of Bad Science and Bad Pharma, and co-founder of the AllTrials campaign welcomed the report, calling it "a complete vindication of AllTrials’ call for all the results, of all the trials, on all the uses of all currently prescribed treatments".
In February 2015 Chris Heaton-Harris voted in favour of allowing mitochondrial donation, which would allow women who carried mitochondrial diseases to give birth to children who would not inherit the disease. An October 2014 briefing report by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), which had been investigating the issue for three years, stated that there was no evidence to show that mitochondrial donation was unsafe. However, some religious groups had said that such procedures should not be allowed. After clearing both Houses mitochondrial donation is now legal, regulated by the HFEA.
In May 2011 Mr Heaton-Harris voted in favour of Nadine Dorries' Sex Education (Required Content) "10 minute" Bill. The Bill stated that "such education must include information and advice on the benefits of abstinence from sexual activity". It was criticised for only applying to sex education for girls, not boys, with critics also pointing to evidence that abstinence-only sex education (which does not necessarily lead to abstinence itself) does not protect young people from unwanted pregnancies or STIs (although this was not a bill advocating abstinence-only sex education, it would have meant that the only required elements of sex education would be basic information on reproduction, plus this new content on abstinence, with further content being up to the individual school). The Bill passed its first reading by 67 votes to 61, but had little chance of becoming law and was withdrawn in January 2012 shortly before its second reading.
Links to check for information:
- HTML: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmselect/cmpubacc/295/29502.htm
- http://chhexpenses.blogspot.com/ - expenses blog
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