Saturday, February 25, 2006

The Trouble With SCOTH

The Scientific Committee on Tobacco and Health (SCOTH) whose primary function is to advise the Chief Medical Officer ­ Sir Liam Donaldson ­ on the effects of tobacco on health has been held up by anti smoking campaigners and the government as being a truly objective and independent body.

But is this committee objective and independent? Close scrutiny demands some questions.

To begin with, two of the members of SCOTH, namely, PROFESSOR GODFREY FOWLER Emeritus Professor of General Practice, University of Oxford, and PROFESSOR MARTIN JARVIS of Cancer Research UK Health Behaviour Unit Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London Medical School, are both directors of ASH. Fowler is also on the Council of the British Heart Foundation which, back in 2002 and together with Cancer Research UK, received £15 million of Government money over the following three years to lead new hard-hitting, anti-smoking campaigns. PROFESSOR MARION HALL has also received a research grant from The British Heart Foundation.

Under the circumstances then, with such connections to ASH (the well known anti-smoking organisation) Cancer Research UK and The British Heart Foundation it is totally risible to say that any of these members of SCOTH can be impartial and ipso facto I certainly question their ability to be objective.

Moreover, further study of SCOTH members' declared interests (see: http://www.advisorybodies.doh.gov.uk/scoth/members.htm ) reveals that 4 of them, including Jarvis again, also have significant links to Glaxo which, along with its merged company Smith, Kline, Beecham, are leading makers of smoking cessation products which include the problematic Zyban also marketed as Wellbutrin. See, for example here:

http://www.gsk.com/products/prescriptionmedicines.jsp?choice=UK
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/606830.stm
http://www.forces.org/writers/kjono/files/glaxo.htm

Three members of SCOTH, including Jarvis yet again, have very positive links to The World Health Organisation, a body substantially funded by Glaxo and their working partnership was openly celebrated in 1999 here:

http://www.who.int/inf-pr-1999/en/pr99-04.html

The reader will notice too that the complete partnership also includes Novartis Consumer Health and Pharmacia & Upjohn, all manufacturers of treatment products for tobacco dependence. Jarvis has also received honoraria for speaking from Pharmacia and Upjohn and Novartis.

Am I the only one who thinks that all of this is inconducive to objectivity on SCOTH's part in addition to outlining some unhealthily incestuous relationships, or what?

Posted By BLAD