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John Whatley, Second Clerk,
Health Committee
House of Commons
LONDON SW1A OAA 16 January 1998


Dear Mr Whatley,

Thank you for your letter Ref HSC97/8.222.jdw, dated 18 December 1997, in response to my letter to David Hinchcliffe MP of December 5th.

I was disappointed by your reply. The Health Committee is always going to have far more important work to do than it can possibly cope with, but your reply suggested that if it can't hold an inquiry, nothing much can be done. That feeling was reinforced by the lack of any indication from your letter that you either had looked at my paper, or intended to.

I would have been reassured, for example, if you had undertaken to ask the Secretary of State for Health to let you have a copy of his response to my letter to him. It would have been helpful to register such concern, even in this small way.

Another reason you might want to consider considering my paper is that it gives a good deal of new evidence about the damaging effects on health of secrecy and lack of accountability in the Medicines Control Agency and Committee on Safety of Medicines. These are very much live issues, given the publication last month of the White Paper on Freedom of Information. This has fundamental implications for public health and the style of medicines' control and, for all the good intentions, the outcome is nothing like a foregone conclusion.

I would also want you to know that, when I gave oral evidence at the invitation of the Committee a couple of years ago, it was to talk on issues which I knew less about and which did not concern me nearly as much as the matter on which I write to you now. Do you think you might be able to tackle my paper, say, by the end of the year?

I would be grateful if you would communicate these thoughts to the Committee Chair.

Yours sincerely,

Charles Medawar


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