Sorry to go over old ground here, but I still have questions about Ian Hudson and his non-appearance at the Health Select Committee hearing back in 2005. I have written about this before, so if you’re new to this thread or just want a refresher then I suggest you look at this post: More on the MHRA and the House of Commons.
Interestingly, I’ve just found this old article from the BMJ, 29 January 2005
Select committee angry over absence of drug regulator from session
London – by Lynn Eaton
Members of the House of Commons select committee on health appeared angry that they were not able to question one of the employees of the United Kingdom’s drug regulatory authority at a session last week looking into the influence of the drug industry.
Although several senior figures from the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency attended the session, the committee said that it would also have liked to have heard evidence from Ian Hudson. Dr Hudson is a member of the agency’s executive board and was worldwide director of safety at SmithKline Beecham from 1999 to 2001, having worked for the company since 1989. Dr Hudson joined the agency’s predecessor, the Medicines Control Agency, in January 2001 as director of the licensing division.
MPs wanted to question Dr Hudson about the company’s drug paroxetine (marketed as Seroxat in Britain and as Paxil in the United States). They were particularly interested in evidence concerning the safety and efficacy of the drug in people under the age of 18. In June 2003 the agency advised doctors that patients aged under 18 should not be prescribed the drug.
Committee members were told that Dr Hudson could not attend the session because he was at a London meeting as a representative of the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use, a part of the European Medicines Evaluation Agency.
“It would have been useful if Dr Hudson had been here, as he was at SmithKline Beecham and his department was responsible [for drug safety],” said Mr John Austin (Labour MP for Erith and Thamesmead).
The agency’s chairman, Alasdair Breckenridge, told MPs he had been a member of the scientific committee of SmithKline Beecham from 1992 to 1997, when he resigned. He fiercely defended his involvement with the committee and denied any knowledge of the issue of the safety and efficacy of paroxetine.
The agency’s chief executive, Kent Woods, also giving evidence to the committee, said that Dr Hudson had assured him he had no direct personal involvement in this safety issue. “However, because of his role in the company [SmithKline Beecham] he doesn’t get involved [in discussions on Seroxat],” said Professor Woods.
Speaking after the meeting, the committee’s chairman, David Hinchliffe, who was clearly angry at the committee’s inability to question Dr Hudson, said his understanding was that Dr Hudson was invited to attend.
However, Professor Woods, also speaking afterwards, said that some discussion with the committee secretariat about who would attend had taken place and that the agency had received a clear statement from the committee about whom it wanted to see, which did not include Dr Hudson.
Professor Woods and Professor Breckenridge also sought to reassure the committee that measures were now being taken by the agency to monitor new drugs more closely. Both reiterated the views of earlier witnesses that the public needed a better understanding of the risks and benefits of all drugs.
Professor Breckenridge admitted that the agency had “suffered from not being professional enough” in its communications. “We are determined to change that,” he said, explaining that the agency has just appointed a communications director.
I hope you noticed the paragraph in bold – “Speaking after the meeting, the committee’s chairman, David Hinchliffe, who was clearly angry at the committee’s inability to question Dr Hudson, said his understanding was that Dr Hudson was invited to attend”.
But what I find strange is that if you want to download this PDF – Witnesses for Thursday.pdf – you’ll see that it appears that Lord Warner (then Health Minister) and David Hincliffe had a phone conversation on the Monday morning before the hearing and agreed exactly who was going to attend from the MHRA… and you will see that Ian Hudson is not mentioned as a witness.
I’m confused – who’s lying then – Lord Warner or David Hinchliffe? and why?
I have emailed my concerns to members of the Committee who were there, asking questions that day, but so far I have been ignored – more than once…