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UK: New Scientists Appointed to Drugs Council

Following sackings and resignations under the Labour government, four new appointments have been made to the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs.

The new scientific advisors will have a difficult job of re-establishing useful relations with the government following the extraordinary sacking of Professor David Nutt. Famous for phrases such as “horse-riding is more dangerous than taking ecstasy”, the colourful academic was unable to maintain a successful working relationship with the former Labour government.

The sympathetic resignations of Prof. Nutt’s colleagues became tied up in a politically motivated power struggle which culminated in the banning of a fertilizer known as  “miaow miaow” or “mephedrone”. The action was taken on the advice of the ACMD but against a backdrop of resignations, scant evidence and claims of procedural impropriety owing to questions over whether the Council was “properly constituted” following those resignations.

The new appointees are:

  • Dr Roger Brimblecombe, pharmacologist and a former holder of a number of senior positions in the pharmaceutical industry;
  • Professor Raymond Hill, neuropharmacologist and a former holder of senior positions in the pharmaceutical industry, current president of the British Pharmacological Society and a member of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics;
  • Mr Graham Parsons, Pharmacist with Special Interest (Substance Misuse), NHS Plymouth; and
  • Dr Jason Aldiss, veterinary scientist, specialising in public health including veterinary medicines.

The ACMD was established under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. It is the duty of the ACMD to keep drugs misuse, in the United Kingdom, under review and to advise the Government on measures for preventing misuse and social problems arising from it.

Professor Les Iversen is interim chair of the ACMD. Members are appointed on an individual basis and not as representatives of the organisations for whom they work.

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Editors and staffers from the Science Desk at The Global Herald.

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One comment

  1. Anyone who is concerned about the integrity of the composition of the ACMD and its independence from political influence ought to be aware of the Clause 154 in the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill currently before Parliament. I have started a petition to object to clauses that would remove the legal requirement for persons serving on this committee to have any relevant expertise. Although the Home Office has loudly protested that this criticism is a misunderstanding and that of course they will keep science and medicine at the forefront, it is difficult to believe an Office that has also publicly stated its intention to “ignore” the recommendations of the Global Commission on drug law reform, which suggested that decriminalization and regulation of certain substances plus treatment and therapy for addiction to others was the way forward. Please check out the petition and add your name to the growing list of people who think the “war on (some people who use some) drugs” is insane.

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