‘Doctor faces official probe over jab links’

By Hamish Macdonel, Daily Mail. 12/2/01.

‘A leading Labour MSP was at the centre of an embarrassing inquiry last night over his links with the drugs giant which makes the controversial MMR vaccine. Dr Richard Simpson is paid up to 5000 a year by a trust funded by the company which makes the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine. Yet he failed to admit this in Holyrood debates on the many occasions when he stood up to support the injection, which some studies claim is linked to the development of autism and bowel disorders.  The MSP for Ochil has now been reported to the Scottish parliament’s standards committee and faces an investigation into his links to AventisPasteur Merck Sharpe and Dohme, the drug company which makes the triple vaccine. Dr Simpson has been one of the most prominent defenders of MMR, arguing on several occasions that health fears surrounding the jab are misplaced’. ‘But the imminent investigation into Dr Simpson’s links with the drugs company behind the vaccine will be a blow to the Executive’s promotion.’

‘Dr Simpson, a family doctor has been one of the strongest supporters of the Executive’s MMR stand and his expert knowledge has given his arguments added weight Dr Simpson said; ‘I didn’t know that Merck Sharpe & Dohme manufacture MMR. My involvement is with an educational group on prostate disease. That is my only connection.’

But SNP’s health spokesman, Nicola Stugeon said: ‘Anyone involved in the MMR debate knows that Merck Sharpe and Dohme manufactures the jab.’ The SNP’s Lloyd Quinan has lodged a formal complaint with the parliament’s standards watchdog. He said: ‘Many of us have had concerns about the lengths to which Dr Simpson will go to defend the triple vaccine.’ ‘According to the Register of Interests for MSPs, Dr Simpson has earned an additional 50,000 pounds from his involvement in consultancies and other activities since parliament began in 1999.

He declares 10,000 for being a medical adviser on adoption and fostering, up to 15,000 from a nursing management company and 5,000 for medical consultancy with pharmaceutical companies including Astra-Zeneca. As director of the Forth Valley Primary Care Research Group, funded by the Executive, he takes home between 5,000 -10,000. His MSP salary is 41,250 a year with 36,000 for allowances and 7,000 for his constituency office. He also gets a free bus pass from Lothian Buses worth 299.’