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Libel law has gagged doctor

21st December 2009

A Danish radiologist has said patients' health is at risk because he is unable to talk about his research due to England's libel laws.


Henrik Thomsen said he had decided not to share his findings in England because General Electric Healthcare are pursuing a claim against him in the high court.

They have alleged that Thomsen defamed the company by saying at a conference in 2007 that a drug they made could have deadly side-effects.

Thomsen said that Omniscan, which improves the clarity of MRI scans, could cause a "potentially fatal condition" in patients who suffered from kidney problems.

He said the condition, nephrogenic systemic fibrosis, was seen in about 30 patients when he worked at Copenhagen University Hospital.

GE Healthcare have already spent £380,000 on legal fees in their pursuit of the case, which is not likely to be heard before 2011. Mr Thomsen will be responsible for paying the cost of the case if he does not win.

His lawyers have contacted the justice secretary Jack Straw to point out that the side-effects of the agent have been a topic of discussion in both Denmark and the US, but no claims have been brought in either country.

"I am not giving lectures any more in the UK where it seems you can be sued for telling the truth," said Thomsen.

"This is serious for me and my family, serious for patients and serious for society as a whole. We thought we had an excellent drug and it turned out we disabled a lot of patients. The only way to improve treatment for other patients is to share this knowledge."


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Article Information

Title: Libel law has gagged doctor
Author: Jess Laurence
Article Id: 13572
Date Added: 21st Dec 2009


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