Call to label medicines made in Israel rejected

By Jennifer Lipman, October 30, 2012
Teva is one of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies (Photo: AP)

Teva is one of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies (Photo: AP)

The Department of Health has rebuffed calls for medicines produced in Israel and sold in this country to be labelled as such.

Colchester Liberal Democrat MP Sir Bob Russell this week asked if the Health Secretary would "introduce measures to ensure that any medicines available across the counter made in Israel are clearly marked as being a product of that country".

Sir Bob is a vocal critic of Israel in parliament, and last year told a Commons debate on Syria that "with the eyes of the world on Syria," he wanted reassurances from the Foreign Secretary "that he will not close his eyes to what is happening next door in Israel".

But his request was denied by Norman Lamb, the Liberal Democrat MP who serves as a Minister of State at the Department of Health.

"The requirements for medicines labelling are set out in both European and national legislation. There is no requirement for medicines labelling to indicate the country of origin," said Mr Lamb in a written response. "Labelling is required to indicate the company authorised to place the product on the market in the United Kingdom. There are no plans to amend the legislation to require country of origin details to be included in labelling requirements."

Sir Bob also called this week for an estimate of "the number of jobs that would be lost in the UK pharmaceutical industry if medicines produced in Israel were available in the UK". His comments follow a decision at the European Parliament to remove trade barriers for pharmaceuticals made in Israel, allowing for their speedier arrival in the European market.

David Willetts, the Minister of State for Universities, said the Government had no intention of assessing this.

Last updated: 12:47pm, October 30 2012