Soaring prices for generic drugs pose one of the most potentially destabilising threats to the NHS. The cost of one commonly prescribed diuretic, for example, has recently risen by 600 per cent.

Primary care groups are in the front line of those attempting to cope with the result. Less than half way through the financial year, at least one PCG was facing a£1m overspend on its prescribing budget. That would be devastating at any time. In their debut year - when PCGs are attempting to manage cash-limited prescribing budgets for the first time - it could be catastrophic.

HSJ was the first to highlight this issue, five weeks ago. We are pleased that the Commons health select committee has decided to investigate the matter. That it has chosen to postpone questioning the new ministerial team in order to give it time to do so is a measure of the urgency of the problem. We wish it well in its inquiry and shall follow its deliberations closely.