Attachment to letter from MCA (Mr Alder) of 29 June 2000
|OG 00/05 REQUEST FROM MR CHARLES MEDAWAR FOR AN INTERNAL|
|REVIEW OF THE HANDLING OF HIS REQUEST FOR INFORMATION ON|
|MCA/CSM CONSIDERATION OF THE POTENTIAL EFFECTS OF DIRECT|
|TO CONSUMER ADVERTISING|
Following what he considered an inadequate response to a request for the Medicines Control Agency to provide information concerning the potential effects of direct to consumer advertising, Mr Medawar has asked the Agency for a review of its decision in accord with its procedures.
Circumstances leading to the Complaint:
Mr Medawar wrote to the Agency (Mr Alder) on the 25th of February 2000 asking whether either the MCA or the CSM was then conducting or had completed any assessment of the possible impacts, including costs, that might result from a change in the law that prohibits the promotion of prescription-only medicines directly to the public. The Agency's response sent on the 20th of April, which confirmed that the Medicines Commission rather than the CSM had considered the matter but refused to provide further details, was deemed unacceptable by Mr Medawar who wrote again to Mr Alder setting out a number of additional questions and seeking an internal review of the handling of his original request. The additional questions are not dealt with in this Review.
I have conducted the review process using the appropriate Standard Operating Procedures (SOP G.2.97 and S.2.98), the Open Government Code of Practice on Access to Government Information (Second Edition) 1997, and the Department of Health Internal Review Guidelines.
In the Code, Government has only committed itself to releasing information and not any particular document. Therefore the Agency may refuse to provide a copy of an original document even if it has been edited under a code exemption. The document in question covers the Agency's early thoughts on direct to consumer advertising and is to be developed for the further consideration of the Medicines Commission. I consider it reasonable, in this instance, for the document itself and its details to be withheld under exemptions 2 and 10. However, I also believe that the Agency could, without harming the frankness and candour of its consultations with the Medicines Commission or pre-empting any planned announcements or publications, provide Mr Medawar with information about the content of the paper.
|Dr Gordon Munro|
|Head of Inspection and Enforcement|
|15 June 2000|