MPs to investigate unpublished drug trial data

MPs are considering an investigation into unpublished drug trial data and the behaviour of drug companies, the chairman of the House of Commons health select committee has revealed.

Stephen Dorrell: investigation into drug trial data 'high on list of priorities'
Stephen Dorrell: investigation into drug trial data 'high on list of priorities'

Speaking at the NHS Alliance conference in Bournemouth, health select committee chairman and former health secretary Stephen Dorrell (Con, Charnwood) said that looking into the way pharmaceutical companies operated and published their trial data was on a list of subjects ‘under active consideration’ by the committee.

Mr Dorrell said he could not give any details on when the subject would come under scrutiny without discussing it first with the rest of the committee.

MP and former GP Dr Sarah Wollaston (Con, Totnes) told GP last month that 'people would be truly shocked at the extent to which data is hidden from them in relation to clinical trials'.

In a debate at the NHS Alliance conference, she said it was extremely important that the government looked again at how it purchased drugs.

‘For far too long now we have allowed the government to buy drugs at vast expense...without actually knowing all of the clinical trial data and I think that’s totally unacceptable.’

‘I think the NHS should be far more muscular. We have many levers that we can exert to insist to see all the data, and not just that but insisting that we see proper professional accountability around it.

‘I think we need a root and branch review of the way the pharmaceutical industry operates.’

Dr Wollaston said she had been putting pressure on the health select committee to discuss the issue. Mr Dorrell replied: ‘It’s pretty close to the top of the list of subjects.'

Dr Wollaston added:  ‘All of these issues absolutely have to be examined. Patient safety is put at risk by inappropriate prescribing which is a risk when doctors do not know the full clinical data.’

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