For the next five weeks, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is asking business and the public which of the regulations which govern its work should be kept, which should be simplified - and which should be scrapped.

The move is part of the government's Red Tape Challenge, which aims to cut unnecessary and over-burdensome regulations across a range of sectors. While it acknowledges that good regulation plays a vital role in potting the public and employees, the Challenge asks whether existing regulations are really providing the protection that is intended, or are they unnecessary or overcomplicated and need to be improved, or scrapped altogether.

More than 250 separate regulations impact on the work of the MHRA. For the purpose of the challenge, they are being broken down into eight themes - medicines, clinical trials, Good Laboratory Practice (GLP), traditional herbal medicines, homeopathic medicines, blood, fees and pharmacy.

With the help of comments made to the Red Tape Challenge website - - the MHRA will go through and decide what action it needs to take on every one of the regulations. The Agency's proposals will then be reviewed by a "ministerial Star Chamber," which will again examine the regulations with the presumption that they will go unless they can be strongly justified. The process will take about three months.

"Regulations are hugely important to the work that we do but we want to ensure we can carry out our work in the least burdensome way possible whilst ensuring patients are protected," said the MHRA's chief executive, Professor Sir Kent Woods.

Added Health Minister Simon Burns: "this challenge will give those working in industry and clinicians a vital opportunity to let us know how we can improve the way we regulate or how we can do things differently, whilst ensuring the public is protected."

"We will use the feedback they give us to plan how to get rid of requirements that are no longer needed, freeing industry from unnecessary red tape and giving health professionals more time to care for patients," the Minister added.

* The Red Tape Challenge was launched by Prime Minister David Cameron on April 7, 1011, to give business and the public a chance to have their say on some of the more than 10,000 regulations that affect everyday life. It does not include legislation or regulations falling within the responsibilities of the devolved administrations.

The Red Tape Challenge - Medicines theme runs from March 9 to April 12.