MP calls for probe into Sheffield's relationship with the drug industry

December 16, 2005

MPs have raised fresh concerns that the commercial interests of the pharmaceutical industry are hampering independent academic research after The Times Higher 's reports about the conduct of Sheffield University's drug study sponsored by Procter & Gamble.

Introducing a House of Commons debate last week, the chairman of the Health Select Committee, Kevin Barron, called on ministers to look into the Shef-field case. Mr Barron told fellow MPs: " The Times Higher Education Supplement and The Observer have reported a case in which researchers...

collaborating with a drug company, published findings without full access to the (drug) trial data."

He added: "I should like my honourable friend (the Health Minister) to examine the position."

Mr Barron said that academic "authors should all have access to the statistical reports and data supplementing each publication".

Julia Goldsworthy MP said the case had shown that the concerns raised by the Health Select Committee in 2004 about the influence of the pharmaceutical industry "are still arising" but the drugs regulatory body, the Medicines Healthcare Products Regulatory Authority (MHRA), had failed to make "any significant strategic or systemic changes" to improve its effectiveness.

Liam Byrne, the Health Minister, said that the MHRA was investigating the Sheffield case "at the request of the Chief Medical Officer".

He said that the Government "warmly welcomes Universities UK's initiative in setting up a UK panel for research integrity in health and biomedical science".

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