NHS hires drugmaker-funded lobbyist

NHS hires drugmaker-funded lobbyist


A lobbying organisation with links to some of the world’s biggest pharmaceutical companies and medical equipment firms has been asked by NHS bosses to write a report that could influence health policy, it has been reported. NHS England commissioned the Specialised Healthcare Alliance (SHCA) to consult patients’ groups, healthcare organisations and charities and produce a report that would be considered as part of its strategy for commissioning specialised services in the future. But SHCA, which represents dozens of charities, is funded entirely by 13 drug companies, the Independent said, while its director John Murray is a lobbyist whose company, JMC Partners, works with clients such as pharmaceutical makers AstraZeneca and Pfizer and medical device company Cyberonics.


The Liberal Democrat MP Tessa Munt said the revelation “called into question the integrity and objectivity of NHS England’s handling of 143 specialised services for millions of people”. But NHS England said the report did not involve a conflict of interest, saying it was “not the final strategy and not NHS England policy”. The report by SHCA did not make specific spending recommendations, the Independent said, but did suggest NHS England should set out a “clear commitment” to “disinvest in interventions that have lower impact for patients” in favour of “new services or innovations”. Murray told the newspaper there was no link between his lobbying business and the SHCA other than providing secretariat services and said the SHCA “never takes a position on particular products or treatments in any of its activities”.


James Palmer, clinical director of specialised services at NHS England, said he was aware of Murray’s role as a lobbyist but “there are no opportunities for lobbying in the process of forming clinical policy”. In a statement he said the work by SHCA would feed into a “draft strategy” along with input from another 16 “engagement events”. “It is completely wrong to suggest we are being unduly influenced by lobbyists … Specialised Healthcare Alliance was asked along with other organisations to support the process of engaging patient groups and other stakeholders to let us know what they thought the outline principles should be. “This did not involve consulting on any individual treatment or consulting on any spending decisions. “Every decision we take will be driven by the interests of patients and the public, nothing else.”


By The Guardian,


The Guardian, the 11th of February, 2014.


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