The Academy of Medical Sciences is this week kicking off a review into the safety and efficacy of medicines to help restore public confidence in their use, on the suggestion of England’s chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies.  

A Department of Health spokesperson has confirmed to PharmaTimes Digital that, in a letter to the Academy earlier this year, Dame Sally voiced concerns that recent controversies surrounding the safety of certain marketed medicines - such as the ongoing debate over statins - has dented the public’s faith in the current system and trust in medical professionals.

“There seems to be a view that doctors over-medicate so it is difficult to trust them, and that clinical scientists are all beset by conflicts of interest from industry funding and are therefore untrustworthy too,” she wrote in the letter - which has not been publicised but seen and reported on by the BBC -  and suggested that the Academy would be well placed to carry out “an authoritative independent report looking at how society should judge the safety and efficacy of drugs as an intervention”.

The letter was obtained by the BBC’s File on 4 programme, which is investigating the growing controversy over use of  Boehringer Ingelheim's stroke drug Actilyse (alteplase), on concerns over its safety and effectiveness and the strength of research underpinning its license.