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Online Comments Lead to BMJ's Disclosure of "Competing Interests"

Text for a Complaint to the United Kingdom General Medical Council against Dr. Harvey Marcovitch

Quill-pen Age of Autism invites readers to submit a complaint to the General Medical Council regarding Dr Marcovitch. The email address for making a complaint to the GMC is [email protected].

Dear Sir/Madam,

I would like to express concern about Dr Harvey Marcovitch reg. 0520920  and his competing interests, particularly in relation the Wakefield affair. Dr Marcovitch is Chair of GMC panels, an associate editor of British Medical Journal, and until recently a director of the United Kingdom Research Integrity Office (UKRIO) a body in part funded by the pharmaceutical industry, and he still appears on their website (HERE).

The foremost concern about Dr Marcovitch is that holding the position of Chair of Panels he could sign an editorial in British Medical Journal in January 2011 accusing Dr Wakefield of fraud in support of articles by journalist Brian Deer with the results of the GMC hearing against Wakefield and colleagues still under judicial review (HERE).  While Dr Marcovitch declared that he was expressing his personal view this was surely still inappropriate. It was very questionable that any such articles should appear at all (most of the British media have not reported the allegations being both potentially defamatory and in contempt of court) let alone that he should be a signatory. On top of this he failed to disclose his involvement with UKRIO until this was pointed out to BMJ, and was disclosed by him in a later related article (HERE) . Very seriously he also failed to disclose with other senior editors of BMJ, who are not registered doctors, that BMJ had business affiliations to two manufacturers of MMR who were defendants in litigation, MSD and GSK. The editor-in-chief BMJ, Dr Fiona Godlee, has now agreed that these connections should have been disclosed (HERE,  HERE ).

Additionally, as Chair of GMC panels Marcovitch has taken no action against the chair of the Wakefield hearing, Dr Surendra Kumar, after it became known that the latter had sat undisclosed on two licensing authority committees and owned shares in MMR defendant manufacturer GSK (HERE ). The defendants at the hearing were more or less forced to pass this matter over when it came to light more than a year into proceedings but this matter plainly leaves the GMC compromised and in breach of the Nolan rules of standards in public life. Nor was any action taken when Kumar demonstrated his extreme views by calling for MMR to be made compulsory in a BMA debate (HERE ) again in flagrant disregard of the Nolan rules.  Equally, it seems that action against Dr Kumar is more than due.

There must also be concern that it was inappropriate for Marcovitch to be on the board of UKRIO, a body concerned with investigating doctors presumably with a view to bringing them before the GMC while acting as an influential officer of the GMC. Apart from anything else he sat alongside Dr Richard Tiner (HERE ) whose MedicoLegal Investigation (HERE ) – which is affiliated to the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry – assisted Mr Deer in his investigation of Dr Wakefield and colleagues.

I request that GMC takes conflict and transparency at all levels of the profession with same degree of seriousness and investigate these matters.



Sent mine.



Just posted my email.

It would be interesting to see if we receive a reply.



Done. Thank you for this!


Has anyone read this?

Really, they are trying to place "ethics" into the category of squashing media releases that may hurt drug companies if the study has possible negative outcomes.

Jenny Allan

Cut, pasted and posted. Excellent letter. I am particularly concerned about the 'sub judice' aspect of those BMJ articles and editorials. It seems obvious that those 3 recent BMJ Brian Deer MMR 'fraud' articles, COMMISSIONED, by the pharma funded BMJ were a DELIBERATE attempt to prejudice the forthcoming High Court judicial review on the GMC verdicts.

The Litttle Red Book

From the sayings of Chairman Marcovitch:

"It is a paradox that the professional medical association that owns JAMA was less than open and transparent with Lundh and colleagues about potential financial conflicts (such as their income from industry sources) as they expect their authors to be."

Angus Files

Good one have sent mine in..always wondered where to start with this complaint about a man who has so many fingers in the pie it makes Humpty Dumpty look pale and thin..

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