A senior psychiatry adviser to the MHRA, and two other senior medical advisers, are being investigated by the GMC, following my complaints about undeclared conflicts of interest.

[15th July: I have received an email from the GMC. They continue to investigate Dr Bewley and Dr Pirmohamed. They have closed their investigation into Dr Owens, with no action taken. So far, no explanation has been given. I regard the complaints against Dr Owens to be equally serious and well-founded, and will be seeking a proper explanation.]

I made 9 complaints about Dr David G Owens FRCPsych (GMC number 1329120), Dr Munir Pirmohamed FRCP (3078110), and Dr Anthony Bewley MRCP (3245772), in November 2019. Seven weeks later, the GMC stated they would ‘look into’ them, and in late January a formal investigation was confirmed:

200128-GMC-Letter-redacted

In response, I sent some further information, mainly to clarify a few of my detailed complaints, but have not heard from the GMC since then. I would have gone public a month or two ago, but delayed doing so because of Covid-19.

My understanding is that the GMC has investigated, and sometimes upheld, similar complaints, in the decade since Andrew Wakefield was struck off for undeclared conflicts of interest (COIs) and failing to obtain ethical approval for his MMR research. I quote from Wakefield’s GMC tribunal decision in my complaints, in support of my submission that these doctors should be suspended. In 2019 a complaint about a mesh surgeon who failed to declare funding from a manufacturer was reported.

I came across these undeclared COIs after meeting campaigners concerned about isotretinoin, a drug for severe acne which has prompted reports of serious adverse effects including depression, psychosis, suicidality, and sexual dysfunction, for decades. Reports of permanent adverse effects have appeared in the last decade.

Dr Owens, Dr Pirmohamed and Dr Bewley were the senior authors of a 2014 report on isotretinoin. That report appears to have been seriously defective in the selection and interpretation of published research.

Last year, campaigners managed to obtain a further Review into isotretinoin. The death of a 15-year-old girl, apparently by suicide, may have been an important factor:

Screenshot_2020-06-30 Acne drug ‘linked to at least 14 deaths’ this year

Despite repeated requests, the MHRA has not released the names of the new ‘Isotretinoin Expert Working Group’, which is understood to have had at least one meeting, in March 2020. I informed the MHRA of my GMC complaints shortly after I submitted them.

I will soon be submitting my own analysis, of past published research into isotretinoin, to the MHRA. Given the serious concerns about the failures of dermatologists, and psychiatrists and psychologists working with them, I will be calling for a suspension of isotretinoin in under-18s, and a structured consent form for adults.

The full complaints:

 

191104-CHM-GMC-complaints-3-submitted-01-redacted

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About Dr Neil MacFarlane MRCPsych

Independent Psychiatrist providing culturally informed mental health opinion, advice, and a few new facts. Based near London, UK. Main qualifications: BA MBBS MA MRCPsych.

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