The Commons health select committee has delayed plans to question the new Department of Health ministerial team so it can launch an inquiry into the soaring cost of generic drugs.

Clerk Dr John Benger said members had been alarmed by a story in HSJ (news, page 2, 23 September) warning that price increases and difficulties in obtaining unbranded drugs were threatening primary care groups in their first year of operation.

Committee chair David Hinchliffe said: 'We are concerned at the way that PCG budgets are being screwed up very badly by the driving-up of prices in this financial year.'

Mr Hinchliffe said he was also considering a major inquiry into the relationship between the pharmaceutical industry and the NHS.

Availability of Generic Drugs to the NHS . Written evidence to the select committee by 1 November.

www.parliament.uk/commons/selcom/hlthhome.htm