Health Committee

4 April 2005
Session 2004-05 THE INFLUENCE OF THE PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRY


4 April 2005
Session 2004-05 THE INFLUENCE OF THE PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRY

EMBARGOED: NOT FOR PUBLICATION OR BROADCAST IN ANY FORM BEFORE 0001 TUESDAY 5 APRIL 2005

TOO MANY PILLS BEING PRESCIBED

CALL FOR STRICTER REGULATION OF PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRY

People are being prescribed too many drugs, before the full consequences of adverse side-effects are known.

That's the opinion of the Health Select Committee, who concluded that the regulator of the pharmaceutical industry has been insufficiently rigorous about its public health responsibilities. There is a need for far greater transparency.

Tighter controls on the promotion of new drugs should be introduced until more is known of their potential side effects. They believe the MHRA lacks the discipline and leadership needed to protect patients' health needs and that an urgent review of the regulatory body should take place focussing on:

  • The need for greater independence from Government.

  • The need for greater independence from the pharmaceutical industry.

  • The need for policies of greater transparency and accountability.

  • Scrutiny of the regulatory standards underpinning new drug review.

  • The reporting and evaluation of adverse drug-reactions.

The Committee concluded that there should be a public inquiry whenever a drug is withdrawn on health grounds. Currently the process is far too secretive to determine whether sufficient testing of the drug took place before its introduction to the market.

The Committee recommended that restrictions be introduced to limit the ability of junior doctors to prescribe drugs. Some GPs are too easily swayed by companies' promotional material and do not properly evaluate the drugs they prescribe.

The Committee noted that the pharmaceutical industry has produced many life-saving medicines and stressed its contribution to improved healthcare in this country. However, it concluded that drugs companies have become increasingly focussed on marketing. They should rely firmly on the excellence of their scientists.

MPs concluded that responsibility for the pharmaceutical industry should be given to the DTi so the Department of Health can concentrate on promoting health.

Committee Chairman, David Hinchliffe said:

"The pharmaceutical industry is extremely powerful and influences healthcare at every level.

The lives of millions of people have been improved by the medicines the industry has produced. However, we have developed an over-reliance on medicines. They have been over-prescribed and patients have suffered as a result.

Like any industry, drug companies need effective discipline and regulation, and these have been lacking.

The industry, the regulator, doctors and other prescribers must take their share of the blame. Our recommendations reflect the need for tighter controls over drug company activities, improved medicines regulation and more effective monitoring of drug safety and efficacy.

Above all, greater transparency is required. Both the pharmaceutical industry and the regulator have already taken steps in this direction. Further change is needed to ensure that the best medicines reach patients."


Notes for Editors:

  1. Embargoed hard copies of the report will be available from the House of Commons Press Gallery and the Reception 7 Millbank SW1P 3JA from 1030hrs on Monday 4th April 2005.

  2. Media Bids/Request for interviews with the Chairman should be directed to Luke Robinson on 07834 312 705

  3. For detailed information on the report the Committee can be contacted on 020 7219 2348.

  4. Committee Memberships is as follows: Mr David Hinchliffe MP (Chairman), Mr David Amess MP, John Austin MP, Mr Keith Bradley MP, Simon Burns MP, Mrs Patsy Calton MP, Jim Dowd MP, Mr Jon Owen Jones MP, Siobhain McDonagh MP, Dr Doug Naysmith MP, Dr Richard Taylor MP.

  5. The report's title is 'The Influence of the Pharmaceutical Industry' and will be published as their fourth report of Session 2004-05 (HC 42-1).




Luke Robinson, Select Committee Media Officer
(For: Culture Media & Sport, Education & Skills, Health, Public Accounts, Trade & Industry, Treasury, Work & Pensions, Scrutiny Unit)
T: +44 (0)20 7219 8895, M: +44 (0)7834312705
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