Social Audit Ltd
P O Box 111 London NW1 8XG
Telephone/Fax 44 (0)171 586 7771
[email protected]


Mrs J Macdonald, Head
Product Information and Advertising
Medicines Control Agency
Market Towers, 1 Nine Elms Lane
London SW8 5NQ

25 July 2000

Dear Mrs Macdonald,

Thank you for your letter of 4th July about the advertisement for Cipramil. Your letter arrived here on the 22nd. The MCA has a good ally in Royal Mail.

I can't imagine why you should think I might be pleased by the outcome of this complaint, but thank you for inviting me to comment. For the record, I experienced a rich range of emotions on reading your letter, but predominantly dismay and intrigue. I shall try to capture the feelings elsewhere.

I do hope you understand what the complaint was about. I am not concerned about the relative merits of citalopram and fluoxetine. What concerns me is to do with the generality of what drug advertising is and does, and what the MCA is capable of doing about it, or not.

Now that the European Commission is gearing up to plunge us all into a world of Direct to Consumer Advertising (DTCA), this matters all the more - apropos of which I am enclosing a copy of Social Audit's recent submission to the EC on DTCA.

Please will the MCA now supply, in the fullest possible detail: [a] copies of all communications to and from the license holder in connection with this complaint; and [b] any other information, facts and analyses that would help to explain the basis on which the MCA concluded that the overall balance of evidence was not in favour of the headline claim.

As a separate request under the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information, please will you let me have, right away, references to any definition of, or guidance relating to the meaning of, the term "objectivity" (within the meaning of Regulation 3A(2) of Advertising Regulations) on which MCA reviewer(s) relied. Perhaps you could also let me know if there are any Standard Operating Procedures relating to advertising control, letting me have copies of any that would enlighten me.

Thank you for your attention; I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,
Charles Medawar


Contents page
List of correspondence with MCA/CSM