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Drug regulator personnel criticised

9 November, 2009  

One in four senior personnel at Ireland’s drug regulator has been accused of having a “potential conflict of interest” after accusations that staff are “too close” to the pharmaceutical industry, according to a report.

Public concern over the safety of drugs – such as swine-flu vaccines – could be alleviated if the Irish Medicines Board was more transparent about the relationship between its decision-makers, advisers and the drugs industry, claimed one of the report authors Orla O’Donovan.

The findings published in Social Science & Medicine showed a chairperson of one of the IMB’s advisory committees had taken part in research sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry and received consultancy fees and industry honoraria.

A former chief executive worked for a drug company before joining the IMB, and later left to work for another one.

Between 1996, when the agency was set up, and 2005, four members of the IMB’s senior management team had a background in the pharmaceutical industry and one of those also participated in research funded by drug companies, the research found. In total, five out of 19 senior people had links with the drug industry.

The IMB, a state body that charges pharmaceutical and medical devices companies for inspections of drugs, says no staff members have any drug company connections. It said advisory committees, which it does not regard as staff, do not make decisions.

Irish Medicines Board