November 4, 2010
This is a blog about Science, Transparency and Medicines in the EU. Good science must be the basis for all decisions concerning the authorisation and use of medicines. Good science needs transparency. Transparency is also essential to good policy and decision-making on medicines.
I hope to raise and invite discussion on questions like the following: How is science made in relation to medicines? Is the process transparent – are clinical trial data always available to third parties? What questions are asked and what questions are avoided? What work is funded and what is not? What results are published and what are not? Who really writes scientific papers; are the contents influenced by commercial pressures? Are public authorities transparent in their decision making on medicines? Are potential conflicts of interest always disclosed? How much confidence should we have in peer-reviewed medical journals? Do we know how and why industry groups try to influence decision-making by public authorities and health professionals – and how much they spend? Where transparency is lacking, what should be done to improve the situation?
There is a lot of good work being done on these issues at national level, in drug bulletins, by consumer organisations and other NGOs in Europe and elsewhere. However, I feel that this work is not given its full value in the EU decision-making process. My greatest hope is that this blog will help a little here – with acknowledgements. I have no expertise in pharmacology and will rely on others to supply that expertise if and when needed but I have spent nearly twenty years as Director of BEUC the European Consumer Organisation learning about the ways in which decisions are made at EU level, in Commission, Council, Parliament and specialist agencies. I have also a lifetime fascination with science, having first qualified (many years ago) with a degree in Physics and Maths.
Declaration of Interest: I am now retired on pension and have time on my hands. I am not paid for this blog. The blog is hosted on a pro bono basis by Blogactiv, for which I am very grateful. My involvement in this blog is included in my entry in the Commission’s Register of Interest Representatives. If I do any work, paid or unpaid, that might appear to have any bearing on this blog or if there is any other relevant change in my circumstances, I will declare it here and in the Register of Interest Representatives.
A number of friends have agreed to help me in developing this blog and to them I am very grateful, but the responsibility for what I write is mine and mine alone.
Finally, I invite all those with an interest in science transparency and medicines in the EU, to read and comment on the blog, to tell your friends and colleagues about it and to give me your (moral) support.
My personal e-mail address for this blog is firstname.lastname@example.org
Education: B.Sc (Hons) Physics and Maths 1967
Barrister at Law 1976
Post Graduate Diplioma in European Law
Career: 1972-1979 Director National Social Service Council
1979-1990 Director of Consumer Affairs and Fair Trade,
1990 – 2007 Director BEUC, the European Consumers
Other Posts: President Transatlantic Consumer Dialogue (TACD)
Member, Advisory Committee, Transatlantic Economic
Special Advisor to Commissioner Meglana Kuneva
Currently a member of the EU High Level Group for the
Reduction of Administrative Burdens (Stoiber Group)
Currently a member of Advisory Committee to Fondation EurActiv