Blog Archives

As pressure to use Merck and Pfizer statins increases, concern about links between the lobbying industry and government quango intensifies


SHCA headerAs concern about mass-medication with statins is in the news, Theresa draws our attention to an article highlighting the fact that the Specialised Healthcare Alliance (SHCA), a lobbying company working for some of the world’s biggest drugs and medical equipment firms, has written a draft report for NHS England, a government quango.

Senior MPs have suggested that this report, which could help shape future health policy, shows that the medical industry is able to use its “wealth to influence government policy at will”. One has called for a parliamentary debate.

Potential conflicts of interest

sarah wollaston mp mdSarah Wollaston (right), a former GP and member of the House of Commons Health Select Committee, said: “NHS England is increasingly commissioning vast sums of public money and we need to know who is getting invited to sit on what panels and what potential conflicts of interest they might have.”

As Tamasin Cave, of the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency, added: “(T)he pharmaceuticals industry is a formidable lobbyist with unrivalled access to policy-makers and significant influence.”

The SHCA, established in 2003 to campaign on behalf of people with rare diseases and other complex conditions which require specialised medical care, has a membership of 97 patient-related organisations. It is supported by 13 corporate members. Its costs are paid for by 13 drug companies, all of whom pay £12,000 a year. Secretariat services to SHCA are provided by a lobbying company called JMC Partners, whose clients include blue-chip drugs firms such as Novatis, Astro Zenica, Sanofi and Pfizer. It also represents a number of medical device manufacturers and biotech companies who sell their products to the NHS, including Roche Diagnostics, Cyberonics and Bausch & Lomb.

The author of the article, Patrick Wright, says that the findings raise significant questions about links between the lobbying industry and NHS England – a quango set up to run the NHS under the Government’s health reforms.

Read the article here: