Dutton’s Slur on Researchers
The Minister responds to claims the Australian Government manipulated and interfered with the National Health and Medical Research Council's Literature Review process.
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PDF printable version of Dutton’s Slur on Researchers (PDF 16 KB)
1 December 2011
An article published by The Australian newspaper today (The Australian, 1/12/11, p.7) suggests the Federal Government has “manipulated” and interfered with the National Health and Medical Research Council's (NHMRC) Literature Review process.
Peter Dutton’s suggestions that the NHMRC’s actions “warrant independent assessment” are a desperate new low and an outrageous and unfair slur on the integrity of our nation’s top health and medical researchers.
Literature reviews are independently undertaken by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) – the nation’s top health and medical research body and a statutory agency – and they are subject to the NHMRC’s rigorous review processes.
The Federal Government does not have any bearing on the process of undertaking any literature review.
The NHMRC used an expert working group in developing the Literature Review on the use of naltrexone implants for the treatment of opioid dependence.
The review was referred to other experts for peer review and subsequently approved by the Council of the NHMRC, which includes the Chief Medical and Health Officers of each State and Territory.
Mr Dutton’s statements demonstrate a complete and utter failure to grasp the rigour and methodology of simple research processes.
The purpose of a literature review is to evaluate and interpret all available research evidence relevant to a particular question, within a defined timeframe and on this occasion, all available literature until October 2009 was considered.
Any Literature Review can only consider evidence within its scope and timeframe.
This simple fact seems to be lost on Mr Dutton.
The NHMRC Literature Review did not rule out the future use of naltrexone implants. It simply concluded that naltrexone implants may show some efficacy as part of an integrated program, but that more research is needed.
The Government supports the NHMRC’s findings. We must always take a cautious approach when patient safety is involved.
There must always be a rigorous framework in place for the use of any treatment in a clinical setting that includes ethics and evidence, to demonstrate efficacy and safety for all patients.
Mr Dutton’s statements show he is prepared to go against the expert advice of the nation’s top health and medical researchers and are an outrageous slur on the integrity of the National Health and Medical Research Council and its processes.
For more information please contact the Minister’s Office on 02 6277 7280
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