Opening up the Drugs Regulators

The Guardian has actively reported on secrecy in the pharmaceutical regulatory bodies and campaigned for greater openness. This article follows a longer investigation published in the Guardian 5 October, 2004.

Sharper teeth for medicines watchdog

Sarah Boseley, health editor
Friday November 12, 2004
The Guardian

The government yesterday announced sweeping changes to the medicines watchdog body after years of criticism and pressure, banning those who sit on its central licensing committee from having any personal or financial interests in pharmaceutical companies.

Lord Warner, the health minister, said those who sat on the regulatory body would in future have three months to sell their shares and end their potentially lucrative consultancy agreements with drug companies.

As the Guardian revealed last month, many of the doctors and scientists who sit on the present Committee on the Safety of Medicines (CSM), granting drug companies licences to sell medicines, also work as paid consultants to the industry. In 2001, 17 out of 36 members declared personal financial interests in drug companies, while more had indirect interests. When drugs in which they have an interest are discussed, members have to leave the room.

Lord Warner yesterday went further than expected with a root and branch excision of those with drug industry ties, not only from the main licensing committee but also from the expert groups on particular diseases that will advise it.

Even those who accept free flights, hotels and restaurant meals from drug companies to attend bona fide educational conferences will be debarred from the committees for six months. A Guardian investigation found this sponsorship was widespread in the NHS.
Read the whole article…

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