§ Mr. Dhanda
To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what discussions he has had with the Seroxat Users Group regarding the Committee on Safety of Medicines review of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor class anti-depressants; 
(2) what action he is taking to ensure that the research conducted by members of the Committee on Safety of Medicines who hold shares in manufacturers of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor class anti-depressants is fully independent; 
(3) what action he is taking to ensure that the review of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor class antidepressants being conducted by the Committee of Safety of Medicines is fully independent. 
§ Ms Blears
[holding answers 28 March 2003]: The Medicines Control Agency (MCA) and the independent scientific advisory group the Committee on Safety of Medicines (CSM) have kept the safety of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants under close review since authorisation, it is normal practice for the CSM to convene an expert group to consider particular issues. The meeting of the ad hoc expert working group of 21 November 2002 was primarily convened to hear a presentation of the research of Dr. David Healy. Members of the Medicines Act advisory committees, such as the CSM, are required to follow a code of practice relating to declarations of interests in the pharmaceutical industry. The code is applied where members attend meetings of expert working groups and this was the case on 21 November 2002.
A new CSM expert group is being appointed to conduct further review of SSRIs and appropriate membership is being considered in light of issues raised at the meeting and the further work these will require, as well as further legal advice on interests in the particular circumstances of this class review.
Officials at the MCA are in contact with members of the Seroxat Users Group and have taken the views of the group into account.