Social Audit Ltd
P O Box 111 London NW1 8XG
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Mr Roy Alder, Head of Executive Support,
Medicines Control Agency
Market Towers, 1 Nine Elms Lane
London SW8 5NQ

1 August 2000

Dear Mr Alder,

Further to your letter of 29th June, I am writing to request an internal review of the MCA's decision not to identity the authors of the discussion paper on DTCA, discussed by the Medicines Commission on 17 February 2000. This request arises because the Ombudsman has advised that he cannot consider this aspect of our complaint unless and until a refusal to disclose has been reviewed.

It is true that I have never specifically requested this information - believing that the paper had been prepared by the MCA - but the deletion of the names of at least two of the three people concerned from the edited minute of the Medicines Commission meeting of 18 November 1999, leads me to believe that you would have refused disclosure had I done so.

On principle, I am reluctant to accept that the harm that would be done by disclosure, and the need to protect the personal privacy of the authors, would outweigh the public interest in disclosure. But if the MCA believes this to be the case, I would appreciate information about the reasoning.

I say 'on principle' partly because of the involvement of a member of the Medicines Commission. As nine of the 23 Commissioners have disclosed personal interests in pharmaceutical companies, and three others have non-personal interests, non-disclosure means it becomes impossible to ascertain whether any conflict of interest might have arisen. I have no reason to believe it did in this case, but that isn't the point.

Could you also please let me know if the Medicines Commissioners themselves have at any stage discussed whether or not this paper on DTCA (including details of authorship) should be regarded as secret or put into the public domain. If so, perhaps you could let me have a copy of the relevant minute(s) of the meeting(s)? I should also like to know whether the Commissioner who co-authored the report was consulted by the MCA in advance of the decision to withhold his/her name (under exemption 12), and whether or not they agreed. Thank you for your attention; I look forward to hearing from you.  

Yours sincerely,
Charles Medawar


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List of correspondence with MCA/CSM