Famous doctors promoted the Covid vaccine without declaring payments

The pharmaceutical watchdog was urged to investigate after a string of celebrity doctors took part in discussions about the Covid vaccine but failed to declare they had been paid by AstraZeneca.

In recent weeks, several high-profile doctors have taken part in debates about the company’s vaccine on primetime television shows, but viewers were not informed that they had previously received thousands of pounds from the pharmaceutical giant.

In April this year, AstraZeneca admitted for the first time in court documents that its Covid vaccine could cause a rare and dangerous side effect in a small percentage of cases. The following month it emerged that the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid vaccine is being withdrawn worldwide.

The revelations sparked a new round of debate over the vaccine, with celebrity doctors invited onto television shows to discuss its effects.

Dr. Ranj Singh, who regularly appears as a talking head on the BBC, received £22,500 from AstraZeneca in 2021, according to data from the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI).

Last month he led a discussion on the BBC breakfast show Morning Live about the safety of the AstraZeneca vaccine and the “serious but rare” complications associated with it. He failed to declare his payments from the pharmaceutical giant to the BBC or to viewers.

Dr Ranj Singh

Dr. Ranj Singh – Matt Frost/Television Stills

A BBC spokesperson said they were not aware of the payments prior to the show, adding: “The segment on the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine was balanced and covered the reported risks and benefits. We became aware of the work of Dr. Ranj in 2021 for the manufacturer after this segment aired and have now discussed this on the show.

Dr. Nighat Arif, who became a household face on television during the pandemic, including on BBC Breakfast, received £10,000 from Astra-Zeneca in 2022.

In April, she appeared on ITV’s This Morning to discuss possible side effects of the AstraZeneca vaccine, such as blood clots, and reassured people that these are “very, very rare”.

An ITV spokesperson said Dr.’s analysis Arif was “fair, accurate and balanced”, adding: “In her capacity as a medical professional [she] described the scientific process that allowed the vaccine to cause a blood clot.

“She indicated that this was ‘rare’ because it had been determined that the number of people who had suffered a clot as a result of the AstraZeneca vaccine was statistically small compared to the millions of people who had received the vaccine. This is in line with information published by the government this year. She also referred to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines in the discussion.”

Dr. Phillipa Kaye received £12,500 from AstraZeneca in 2020 and a further £9,000 from the same company in 2022.

Dr.  Philippa KayeDr.  Philippa Kaye

Dr. Philippa Kaye – Dave Benett/Getty

During the pandemic, she has been prominent on social media, posting videos encouraging people to get the Covid vaccine, some of which were officially promoted by the Ministry of Health.

In a post on 5 million. If 2.5 million 40-year-olds get Covid, 2,000 will die and one in twenty (125,000 people) will have Covid for a long time. The benefit outweighs the risk.”

Alex Fell, chief executive of the pharmaceutical regulator, has been urged to investigate whether there has been a breach of the ABPI code of practice for pharmaceutical companies.

The letter, sent by Sir Graham Brady and Lord Strathcarron, points out that clause 24 of the ABPI Code requires pharmaceutical companies to include provisions regarding the disclosure of such payments when drawing up contracts with doctors.

The code says that “companies must include in their written contracts or agreements provisions regarding the individual’s obligation to represent that they are a contracted individual to the company when writing or speaking publicly on a matter that is the subject of the agreement. or any other matter relating to that business”.

Breaches of the code are investigated by the Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority (PMCPA).

Sir Graham and Lord Strathcarron, co-chairs of the all-party parliamentary group for Pandemic Response and Recovery, say action is needed by the watchdog “to maintain confidence in doctors’ advice”.

They say: “Whether on television or in GP practices, all payments made to them by pharmaceutical companies must be publicly recorded and fully disclosed. If a potential conflict of interest is hidden from the public, trust is inevitably eroded, which is bad for everyone.”

All doctors have made similar statements to explain that they were not specifically paid by AstraZeneca in connection with the Covid vaccine. They say they were paid – through a PR firm – to promote the pharmaceutical giant’s nasal flu vaccine.

Dr. Nighat Arif said: “I only worked with Astrazeneca (through a PR agency) on a public health educational campaign on the nasal flu vaccine in winter 2021. All payments were declared on the ABPI. To make it absolutely clear, I was not paid to promote the Covid vaccine.”

Dr. Ranj Singh said: “The AZ Oxford vaccine was launched in 2020/21. I worked with AZ (via a PR company) on a completely separate children’s flu campaign in 2022 that was reported to the ABPI. And I haven’t worked with them since. I have never been paid to promote Covid vaccines.”

Dr. Phillippa Kaye said: “I have worked with Astrazeneca (through PR agencies) on educational campaigns solely on the nasal flu vaccine. The last time I was involved in the nasal flu vaccine education campaign was in Winer 2021. All payments were declared to the ABPI. To be clear, I was not paid to promote Covid vaccines.”

AstraZeneca declined to comment on the specific cases, but pointed out that this is an area covered by the ABPI code of practice, which applies to the entire pharmaceutical industry.

Dr. Amit Aggarwal, executive director of medical affairs at the ABPI, said they are “committed to transparency in the relationships between pharmaceutical companies and NHS professionals, and are proud that Disclosure UK is helping to provide that transparency”.

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