Letter: Behind the patches

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The Independent Culture
Sir: You report ("Call for nicotine patches on NHS", 10 June) that Dr Ian Gibson MP is outraged at my revelation that the recent nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) press conference at the House of Commons was funded by a commercial company. He said my observations were "100 per cent" false.

The facts are that the invitations to the event were sent out by a medical PR company, the report by eminent scientists was fully funded by a pharmaceutical company, and the company and others would benefit if NRT patches or treatment were placed under prescription.

There was a clear, undisclosed commercial background to a meeting purporting to be concerned only about public policy. I wonder what Dr Gibson's reaction would have been if I had hosted such a meeting in the Commons secretly promoted by a tobacco company standing to gain hugely from a change in public policy.