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MIND BOSS BACKS BENZO INQUIRY
June 22, 2004
The head of the mental-health charity MIND is backing the House of Commons inquiry into the pharmaceutical industry.
Richard Brook, chief executive of MIND, has welcomed the news that Uppermill campaigner Barry Haslam, and Oldham East and Saddleworth MP Phil Woolas have succeeded in getting a top-level inquiry launched.
The Commons Health Select Committee, chaired by David Hinchcliffe - the Labour MP for Wakefield - announced last week that there will be a new inquiry into the influence of the pharmaceutical industry.
Pressure from Mr Haslam and support from Mr Woolas helped to convince Mr Hinchliffe that MPs need to probe allegations that pharmaceutical companies and GPs ignored evidence and guidelines showing highly-addictive tranquillisers were being over-prescribed.
More than 5,000 people in Oldham and 1.2 million people in the UK are thought to be addicted to anxiety-suppressing drugs like Valium, Seroxat, Temazepam and Librium.
Today Mr Brook, who resigned from the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency in March, saying it had failed to act on the problems, said: "This is a victory for the British consumer.
"In particular, it is testament to the determination of ordinary people to have their concerns over anti-depressant side effects heard and acted upon by the regulatory authorities.
"The regulator's prime function should always be to protect the public from bad medicine. It should never be open to influence from pharmaceutical multi-nationals seeking instead to protect their commercial interests."
The terms of reference of the inquiry were announced yesterday. The committee will look at the influence of the industry on drug innovation; the conduct of medical research; the provision of drug information and promotion; professional and patient education; regulatory review of drug safety and efficacy; and product evaluation, including assessments of value for money.
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