Social Audit Ltd
P O Box 111 London NW1 8XG
Telephone/Fax 44 (0)171 586 7771
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Mrs. A Thyer, Executive Support
Medicines Control Agency
Market Towers, 1 Nine Elms Lane
London SW8 5NQ

22 June 1999

Dear Mrs Thyer,

Thank you for your letter of 18 June with enclosures. I was interested but perplexed to learn that the Agency has decided to post on the Internet edited versions of the minutes of CSM meetings. The expurgated minutes you sent me so clearly resemble the core of a ring doughnut, I would have thought it less embarrassing to publish nothing. The refusal even to identify which CSM members declared conflicts of interests during meetings pretty much says it all.

I note errors were made in responding to previous Code requests, but thank you for correcting the record. Please you could also check the Table you sent of "Declarations of personal specific interests declared at meetings of CSM concerning SSRIs (1987 - July 1998)? The record refers to discussion of "Elantine (Prozac) capsules": is this correct?

Your very flat refusal to the Code requests made in my letters of 11 June to Dr Jones and Mr Alder concerns me greatly. In spite of the clear terms of my request, you gave no indication that you had given any thought to where the public interest might lie, nor why it might be outweighed by any harm resulting from disclosure. Your suggestion that I had sought disclosure of any communication between the Agency and the Ombudsman is wrong, and you appear to have given no consideration to the reduced need for confidentiality in matters involving expert advisory committees. In effect, you are telling me that discussions relating to policies on openness should be secret. I cannot believe this is acceptable and invite you to reconsider, treating this as a formal complaint.

Finally, please could you let me know if the CSM is considered what the Cabinet Office designates an NDPB (non-departmental public body) and, if so, please will you supply me with a copy of its Code for members? Please would you also indicate, if it is not already clear, when the current edition of the Code was prepared, and whether or not it is based on the Cabinet Office's Model Code?

Yours sincerely,
Charles Medawar


Contents page
List of correspondence with MCA/CSM