Social Audit Ltd
P O Box 111 London NW1 8XG
Telephone/Fax 44 (0)171 586 7771
socialaudit@gn.apc.org   http://www.socialaudit.org.uk

 

Mrs. D A Leakey, Information Pharmacist
Medicines Control Agency
Market Towers, 1 Nine Elms Lane
London SW8 5NQ

18 June 1999

Dear Mrs Leakey,

Thank you for your acknowledgement dated 15 June, ref OG/99/22. I shall look forward to receiving your substantive reply, and shall be wondering in the meantime who exactly will be involved in the determination of the rather delicate point of public interest I raised with Dr Jones. Perhaps in due course you could let me know about this?

Not for the first time, I've also been wondering about the process of acknowledging requests for information - typically a few standard lines of text on an otherwise pretty blank sheet of A4 paper. I don't mean to be vexatious in asking in the Agency ever uses A5 paper, also if it has any sort of environmental policy which might give guidance on this?

In this connection, please may I also formally request [a] a copy of any list of email addresses of MCA staff; and/or [b] a copy of any policy document which might explain any reluctance to disclose them. I don't understand why email addresses are not routinely printed on MCA letterheads: surely it would much more economical, and kinder to trees, at least to communicate formal acknowledgements in this way?

Finally I have a Code request to make on behalf of Dr Andrew Herxheimer (9 Park Crescent, London N3 2NL) and by email: Andrew_Herxheimer@compuserve.com   He has asked me to act for him as he will be out of the country for a few days. His request arises in connection with the article on "The safety of human albumin" in the June issue of Current Problems. (Incidentally, have I been struck off the Current Problems mailing list again? This has happened without notice two or three times in the past. It's not that I mind referring to the MCA website, except that it has been very much under construction for the best part of a year, and is therefore not something I visit too often - apart from which the publication of Current Problems is erratic, so I wouldn't know when new alerts have been published).

The article on human albumin refers to an Expert Working Party (EWP) of the CSM, set up to examine the Cochrane Injuries Group findings [1] and to advise on any necessary regulatory action. Please will you let Dr. Herxheimer know who was on the EWP, and provide a copy of their report? Perhaps you could also let me have a copy of the report - my interest being in the conclusion "that there is insufficient evidence of harm to warrant withdrawal of albumin products from the market". It always concerns me when regulators and politicians decide there is "no evidence", or "insufficient evidence", of harm - because data collection systems are so rudimentary, as to be hugely biased towards the conclusion that no news is good news. With antidepressants, the tendency certainly seems to be to deny the existence of risk, in the absence of clear evidence of harm.

Thank you for attention and I shall look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,
Charles Medawar

[1] Cochrane Injuries Group Albumin Reviewers, BMJ 1998; 317: 235-240.

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List of correspondence with MCA/CSM