Here are some more ‘did you know’ moments.
It’s a surprise to many that regulation of drugs in the UK is not governed by the Department of Health. It was effectively ‘privatised’ and handed over to a body now named the MHRA which is entirely financed by the Pharmas. Its present chief executive worked for 27 years at GlaxoSmithKline, while its current Director of Licensing was Glaxo’s Worldwide Director of Safety in his last job. Regulators and industry are intimately intertwined.
The MHRA investigation into Seroxat has been heavily criticised for delays and lack of scientific rigour. Embarrassingly, the initial committee set up to look at the safety of Seroxat was force to disband after months of work. Half the ‘independent experts’ on the committee had links with GSK. Significantly and courageously Richard Brook, the mental health charity Mind’s Chief Executive at the time, resigned from the MHRA expert group on SSRIs. He said that continued membership was incompatible with Mind’s remit to represent the interests of mental health service users. He revealed that the MHRA had delayed publishing for ten years data they possessed of the dangers of Seroxat for children.
Mind has a distinguished record of tackling the might of the Pharmas. They take no money from the industry. The integrity of other charities may have been compromised; Depression Alliance admits to taking more than 80% of their funding from Pharmas in the recent past. Their mouths have been bandaged into silence throughout the exposure of the Seroxat scandal – Depression Alliance’s sole contribution to the debate was an attack on the accuracy of programmes on the subject made by the BBC’s Panorama .
Charities and patients’ groups depend on Pharmas’ cash. In a survey conducted, 18 charities involved in parliamentary lobbying said that they took donations; six refuse. Young Minds charity stated, “It is Young Minds’ policy not to enter into financial partnerships with Pharmaceutical companies. This enables the organisation to maintain its independence and avoid any possible instances of compromise.”
Many of these groups provide support for Commons All-Party. No declarations of interests are currently required. The groups may be used as Trojan Horses to wield influence in parliament. Full transparency is being sought.