Doctors can take money from cigarette companies and don't have to tell anyone about it, says Dr Chris van Tulleken


Thursday, December 6, 2018

A doctor has claimed that babies are wrongly being diagnosed with milk allergies because of the influence of the baby formula industry.

Dr Chris van Tulleken, an infection doctor at University College London Hospital, said medical professionals had extensive links with big formula companies, which led to babies being prescribed specialist formulas when they were not required.

Appearing on the Matthew Wright show, Dr van Tulleken said: "The basic research is funded by industry, the guideline authors accept money from industry, and the guidelines are disseminated to doctors at educational conference paid for by industry.



"The Royal College of Pedatrics and Child Health - who should be the people regulating and providing the culture in this area - also accept money from two of the largest formula companies. This is a situation where you can't prove this goes on, but it's not an ideal situation."

An investigation by Dr van Tulleken published in the British Medical Journal found that babies diagnosed with milk allergies had risen 500 per cent over the last decade, with the NHS bill for specialist formulas used to treat cows' milk allergies rising from £8.1 million to more than £60 million per annum.


'Total transparency' needed

He said the only way to break the influence of industry was "total transparency" and a "change in culture" with regards to accepting money from big formula companies.

"In the UK, doctors are not legally obliged to declare their conflicts," Dr van Tulleken said.

"I can take money from a cigarette company, an alcohol company and a formula company and I don't have to tell anyone about it."