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Panorama
Social Audit
Social Audit, which wrote the report featured in the programme, is the publishing arm of the charity 'Public Interest Research Centre'.

It was formed in 1971, as an offshoot of the Public Citizen network of organisations founded in the US by Ralph Nader.

The name Social Audit was derived by analogy: "if there are financial audits, why should there not also be 'social audits' - regular reports on the way any company is performing its duty not just to shareholders, but to workers, consumers, indeed everyone affected by what that body does?"

The group produces a mix of both in-house and other reports and specialises in looking at issues rather than individual organisations.

Specialist

The Public Interest Research Centre (PIRC) was set up with grants from the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust - and the Charitable Trust has mostly funded them since.

Social Audit's work has been funded mainly by sale of publications, also through consultancy work in legally aided drug injury litigation.

Charles Medawar has a professional background in consumer protection. He worked with Consumers' Association (1966-1971) and was later elected to its Council.

He is a specialist in medicines policy and drug safety issues and on matters of corporate, governmental and professional accountability. He regularly lectures and writes on such issues.

Mr Medawar has held a number of appointments with the World Health Organisation and is now a member of the WHO Expert Advisory Panel on Drug Policies and Management.

Consultant

The report's co-author, Dr Andrew Herxheimer taught clinical pharmacology and therapeutics at London University until 1991, most recently at Charing Cross and Westminster Medical School, and also at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands.

He founded the Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin, published by the UK Consumers' Association, in 1962 and edited it until 1992. Since then he has worked in the Cochrane Collaboration and is now Emeritus Fellow of the UK Cochrane Centre in Oxford.

He is co-founder of DIPEx, a rapidly expanding Database of Personal Experiences of illness, which now covers hypertension, and cancer of the prostate, breast, bowel, testis and cervix; epilepsy will follow soon.

He has frequently been a consultant to the World Health Organization. He is interested in all aspects of providing unbiased, clear and concise information about therapeutic interventions to professionals and the public.

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