Social Audit Ltd
P O Box 111 London NW1 8XG
Telephone/Fax 44 (0)171 586 7771
Dr J S Price
Head, Clinical Evaluation Unit
Medicines Control Agency
Market Towers, 1 Nine Elms Lane
London SW8 5NQ 23 September 1997

Dear Dr. Price,

Thank you for your letter of 15 September. I was disappointed to find no obvious correlation between response time and acuity of reply. To my mind, the arguments in your letter bear a worrying resemblance to those advanced by the Committee on Review in Medicines (Brit. Med. J., 29 March 1980, 910-912) when it concluded that withdrawal symptoms "occurring during the course of medically-supervised treatment (with benzodiazepines) were not necessarily indicative of true dependence" and that "the true addiction potential of benzodiazepines was low". In that context, the word "true" signalled the Committee’s erroneous belief that dependence on benzodiazepines was quite different from dependence on barbiturates. Now, it connotes the official view that dependence on benzodiazepines and antidepressants (notably SSRIs) are not to be compared. Your letter only reinforces my view that history is repeating itself , again right under the authorities’ nose.

I do not think it would be helpful to pursue the issue in correspondence, nor by telephone, but if you (and any colleagues) would care to meet to discuss these issues, I would be happy to do so – but only provided such a meeting was recorded and on the record. Please let me know if you would like to pursue this. In any case, I hope you will also feel able to make allowances for my bluntness, an attempt to communicate real and urgent concern.

Yours sincerely,


Charles Medawar


Contents page
List of MCA/CSM Correspondence