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Mr Roy Alder, Head of Executive Support
Medicines Control Agency
Market Towers, 1 Nine Elms Lane
London SW8 5NQ 3 May 1998

Dear Mr Alder,

Many thanks for your letter of 30 April, responding to our 7 and 10 March requests for information under the Code. This was helpful and interesting and I appreciate the time and trouble you and your colleagues took to reply.

Mr Dunlevy earlier made the point that some of my questions seemed rather argumentative. If so, I would think parity now reigns - but fair enough, let's leave it at that.

Do I want to pay 400 to have the MCA search for a definitive or even robust definition of "commercial confidentiality"?  No thanks. It is sufficient to know that this concept is so ill-defined that it would take you 21 hours of search time, with no guarantee of a result.

I await eagerly your response to my request of 7 March for copies of the minutes of any CSM discussions relating to "commercial confidentiality". I do hope the Committee will feel able to give in gracefully on this: it would be hard to accept that it was proper that the Committee's views on secrecy should themselves be kept secret.

Ditto all this secrecy in the consultation process, the subject of Dr Munro's review of my request for information dated 16 January. The MCA's Chief Executive told me on 5 December that it was "consulting widely with relevant bodies" on issues we raised, and I've asked for a list of the bodies involved. What's the problem? (Never mind; I can wait.)

Your letter did not address my request of 20 March in which I asked for a complete and up to date list of all MCA Standard Operating Procedures in use and/or now under review (Titles, dates and reference numbers only); also copies of SOP No 20 (Re: Post-Marketing Drug Evaluation Unit. General Enquiries), and the Agency's complaints handing procedure. In your letter of 22 April, you said you hoped to reply on this by the end of the month. I look forward to receiving these, also a reply to my letter to Dr Jones of 14 April, plus a response to my requests to the CSM of 12 and 20 March. Thank you for your attention.

Yours sincerely, 

Charles Medawar cc Dr Paul Seaward, Clerk to the Select
     Committee on Public Administration



Contents page
List of MCA/CSM Correspondence