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Dr Keith Jones, Director and Chief Executive
Medicines Control Agency
Market Towers, 1 Nine Elms Lane
London SW8 5NQ 3 June 1998

Dear Keith,

Thank you for your letter of 27 May, but I fear there is little prospect even of our agreeing to disagree about almost anything. You say the parrot is alive & well   and I say it's well and truly dead, and there it is. Viewers will have to make up their own minds.

I still want to know why the MCA thinks it would be damaging if it were to release data that has for years been on the public record in the US. I can think of no reason and the MCA has provided none. It is as if I have been asking the Agency to produce the cat it claims to have in the bag, only to be repeatedly pointed to the label on the bag that says "CAT".  So how come it keeps grunting?

I know they have their rules in the US and that we have ours. But this is only to agree that you are proffering an upstanding example of a Norwegian Blue, not that it is capable of squawking. Ditto the notion that the Agency exists to regulate medicines "in the best interests of the man on the Clapham omnibus". If I concede that the parrot's claws are firmly gripping the perch, it is merely to confirm that mine would be too if they'd been nailed there. I may not be a doctor, but this parrot does seem unusually dead to me.

I am finding this a mind-bending correspondence, but fascinating too. It puts me in mind of the proposition that perhaps "the human brain is not an organ of thinking but an organ of survival, like claw or fangs … made in such a way as to make us accept as truth that which is only advantage". May I respectfully repeat my request for the explanation I am entitled to under the Code: specifically what harm might be done by this disclosure?

I am not inclined to think the review you mention will promote avian resurrection but I guess it's an advance on some alternative tendencies, including both silence and the noisy savaging of dead sheep. But when will this review be completed? Won't this really depend on how long it takes for the license holders to niggle their way through negotiations, word by word by word?  Indeed, how much longer will it take for the MCA to produce a half-way sensible response to the questions I raised (16 January) about the terms of this review? I look forward to hearing from you. In the meantime, I enclose an encouraging opinion by Dr James Le Fanu, published in the Sunday Telegraph magazine section of 24 May.   

Yours sincerely, 
Charles Medawar    




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