Open letter to Roche about oseltamivir trial data

Letter to Sir John Bell

9 November 2012

Fiona Godlee has asked Sir John Bell, Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford University and the only medically qualified member of Roche’s board, to use his influence to persuade the company to release data needed to judge whether the massive purchases of its drug Tamiflu represent a justified use of public funds.

Six years ago, when Sir John was President of the Academy of Medical Sciences, I spoke and wrote to him about biased under-reporting of medical research.

My letter of 12/10/06 (see text below) referred to the lack of scientific and ethical leadership to confront those form of unethical and unscientific conduct, and asked him to clarify the Academy’s position.

Having not received a response several months later, I asked Sir John when I might expect a reply.

He said that he might have mislaid my letter and asked me to send him a copy, which I did on 15 June 2007. I am still waiting for a reply.

This dismissive attitude to a form of scientific misconduct which has been shown to result in the avoidable suffering and deaths of patients, as well as wasted resources, does not reflect well on the leadership of the medical research community.

Competing interests: None declared

Iain Chalmers, Coordinator

James Lind Initiative, Oxford OX2 7LG, UK

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