Social Audit   Ltd
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Dr June Raine, Director
Post-Licensing Division
Medicines Control Agency
Market Towers, 1 Nine Elms Lane
London SW8 5NQ

9 February 2003

        Dear Dr Raine,

Thank you for your letter of 4 February. It confirmed my fears of cronyism and more, and I shall be pursuing my complaint as you suggest. In this connection, please let me know by the end of this week if you dispute what Dr Healy and Dr Herxheimer have both independently confirmed to me – that you explained my exclusion from the meeting of 21 November saying, "he is not a scientist".

I look forward to receiving a response to my letter of 21 January. In the meantime, it seems na´ve and perhaps opportunistic now to profess some new found hope that we might meet, courtesy of the Seroxat Users Group. I am not sure whether you misunderstand or misrepresent the position:

1. Social Audit (SA) and the Seroxat Users Group (SUG) are entirely independent organisations. When they told the MCA they would have liked me to join their group at the meeting with the MCA, they had not discussed it with me, as they should have done. The first I heard from them was an email saying that the MCA "hadn’t objected" to their proposal that I came. Big deal. You should know that I have never even met anyone from SUG and also declined an invitation to address their inaugural meeting, in an attempt to maintain complete independence from any legal action – not least because of the MCA’s own prejudices about the role of lawyers in representing consumers’ interests. You will recall that the MCA/CSM, until recently, tried to stop lawyers (and only lawyers) even from obtaining the most basic data about suspected adverse drug reactions - and on this occasion, I understand the MCA specifically told SUG that they could not bring a legal adviser to the proposed meeting with Dr Mackay.

2. At a few days’ notice I could not have attended that meeting, but I would not have chosen to if I had been free. The contrast between the sugary invitation to the SUG and your refusal of Dr Healy’s and my request that I should attend the November meeting was too much to swallow. I could only conclude that this volte face had far less to do with seeking after truth than saving ministerial/departmental face. After more than five years of being held at bay, while attempting to explain how the MCA/CSM was contributing to a vast amount of unnecessary suffering, I did not think anything much would be gained by going to a "private and informal meeting" between the SUG and Dr Mackay, especially when the MCA had refused SUG’s request to record the proceedings. Such a meeting hardly befitted what Parliament had been told was an "intensive review."

Yours sincerely,
Charles Medawar


Contents page
List of correspondence with MCA/CSM