In the UK part of the way that our Government works is through what are known as House of Commons Select Committees. Select committees are made up of members of parliament who come from all the parties in the Commons, not just the party who won the election. The idea is that they are able to investigate and perform checks and balances on aspects of modern life. Then then publish a report at the end of the investigation which can influence or change government policy. If you’re interested you can see a list of the Select Committees here.
The report that I want to draw your attention to today is Fourth Report of Session 2004-05 entitled “The Influence of the Pharmaceutical Industry.”
This is a very long and detailed report but is worth a read if you have the time and you can download a PDF here.
One of the recommendations can be read at paragraph 376: “During this long inquiry we became aware of serious weaknesses in the MHRA. Worryingly, in both its written and oral evidence the Agency seemed oblivious to the critical views of outsiders and unable to accept that it had any obvious shortcomings, except those that could be remedied by more transparency. The Agency’s attitude to its public health responsibilities suggested some complacency and a lack of requisite competency, reducing our confidence in its ability to undertake the reforms needed to earn and deserve public trust. Nor did we conclude that the MHRA provides the discipline and leadership that this powerful industry needs. We recommend that there be an independent review of the MHRA. The earlier review by the National Audit Office was designed expressly to assess the public expenditure aspects of the work of the agency; a more wide-reaching and in-depth review needs to be carried out to determine whether the processes now used for decision-making are adequate and reflect patients’ health needs and society’s expectations.”
The government response is here.
Nothing will change. The influence and power of the Pharmaceutical industry will see to that and in the meantime, patients will continue to suffer as more and more prescriptions for unsafe medicines are handed out.