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Pay threat to EMIS users

The Medicines and Health Care Products Regulatory Agency is facing criticism from safety experts after admitting its drug regulatory role is entirely funded by pharmaceutical company levies.

On the opening day of the Commons health select committee inquiry into the influence of the pharmaceutical industry, MPs questioned whe- ther the funding was 'appropriate' given the MHRA's central role in providing drug warnings.

Professor Tony Avery, chair of the UK Drug Utilisation Research Group and a GP in Nottingham, said: 'It seems potentially problematic to have an organisation funded by a levy to the industry it is regulating.

'To convince the public of your independence it's not just about doing things correctly, it's about being seen to be doing them correctly as well.'

Professor Kent Woods, chief executive of the MHRA, defended his organisation, saying there were similar funding arrangements in the Netherlands and the US, and that he was 'quite comfortable' with fee income funding.

The inquiry will focus on how the industry affects drug innovation, regulatory control, efficacy, drug information, promotion and product evaluation.

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