MHRA has immoral financial links to the pharmaceutical industry?

Vaccinating the UK against covid-19

BMJ 2020; 371 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m4654 (Published 30 November 2020)Cite this as: BMJ 2020;371:m4654 Read our latest coverage of the coronavirus outbreak

Rapid Response:

Is the MHRA independent?

Dear Editor

JK Anand refers to the MHRA as an “independent body” [1] and while this is being frequently stated at the moment it is in reality an agency of the Department of Health and Social Care [2] and the work of its pharmaceutical licensing division is 100% paid for by the industry [3].

It should be added that in 2005 the House of Commons Health Committee produced a report censuring the DH and the MHRA for being too close the industry and I have heard of no attempts since then to remedy this. The report ‘The Influence of the Pharmaceutical Industry’ stated ( p. 3&4) [4].

“”The Department of Health has for too long optimistically assumed that the interests of health and of the industry are as one. This may reflect the fact that the Department sponsors the industry as well as looking after health. ..The MHRA Chairman stated that trust was integral to effective regulation, but trust, while convenient, may mean that the regulatory process is not strict enough. The organisation has been too close to the industry, a closeness underpinned by common policy objectives, agreed processes, frequent contact, consultation and interchange of staff. We are concerned that a rather lax regime is exacerbated by the MHRA’s need to compete with other European regulators for licence application business…””

[1] JK Anand, ‘ Re: Vaccinating the UK against covid-19’, 3 December 2020, https://www.bmj.com/content/371/bmj.m4654/rr-5
[2] https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/medicines-and-healthcare-pro… “We are an executive agency of the Department of Health and Social Care”.

[3] https://web.archive.org/web/20140604072443/http://www.mhra.gov.uk/Search…

[4]https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200405/cmselect/cmhealth/42/42.pdf

https://www.bmj.com/content/371/bmj.m4654/rr-9

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