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Compilation of all NHMRC correspondence

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First letter to NHMRC about the amalgam booklet

Second letter to NHMRC about the amalgam booklet

First Response From NHMRC (by fax) announcing withdrawal of booklet

ASOMAT response to fax from NHMRC asking for confirmation that withdrawal of booklet means that NHMRC policy is withdrawn (by fax)

Second Response From NHMRC (by fax) confirming withdrawal of policy statement

ASOMAT reply confirming advice of withdrawal of policy (by fax)

Final fax from NHMRC with no disagreement about interpretation of advice given regarding withdrawal of amalgam policy. (by fax)

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First letter to NHMRC about the amalgam booklet

 

20 May, 1997

Prof. Richard Larkins,
Chair of NHMRC,
G.P.O. Box 9848
Canberra ACT 2601

Dear Professor Larkins,

I am, writing about the NHMRC booklet titled "Dental amalgam and mercury in dentistry". Are you aware that the reference cited, which purports to support the four conclusions at the end of the booklet, has absolutely no connection with the comments in the four conclusions. The conditions discussed in the four conclusions are not mentioned anywhere in the reference.

I have enclosed a copy of the reference which is cited in this NHMRC booklet for your convenience and I would be grateful for an explanation for this inconsistency.

Yours sincerely
Dr. Roman Lohyn

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Second letter to NHMRC about the amalgam booklet

20 June, 1997

Prof. Richard Larkins,
Chair of NHMRC,
G.P.O. Box 9848
Canberra ACT 2601

Dear Professor Larkins,

I wrote to you on the 20th May 1997 at which time I enclosed a NHMRC booklet titled "Dental amalgam and mercury in dentistry" along with a copy of the reference cited in that booklet. I pointed out that the conclusions in the booklet had no connection with the reference and asked for an explanation. It would appear that the information in this booklet is not only inaccurate but also misleading to the dental profession as well as to the general public who rely on the NHMRC to provide them with accurate information.

Can I assume that the NHMRC will withdraw this booklet from circulation until the mistakes are corrected?

I would be grateful for an early reply.

Yours sincerely
Dr. Roman Lohyn

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First Response From NHMRC (by fax) announcing withdrawal of booklet

18 August 1997

Dear Dr. Lohyn,

Thank you for your letter of 20 May to Professor Larkins concerning the NHMRC booklet Dental amalgam and mercury in dentistry. I apologise for the unacceptable delay in replying to you.

You are quite correct: the booklet badly misquotes the paper by Margareta Ahlqwist. I have requested that the booklet be withdrawn and have asked the original working party that developed the booklet for an explanation.

Sincerely,

signed Stephen Leeder
Chair,
National Health Advisory Committee
NHMRC

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ASOMAT response to fax from NHMRC asking for confirmation that withdrawal of booklet means that NHMRC policy is withdrawn (by fax)

August 24, 1997

Dear Professor Leeder,

Thank you for your fax dated 18th August 1997 in which you informed me that you had withdrawn the booklet "Dental amalgams and mercury in dentistry".

In previous correspondence regarding NHMRC policy on amalgams and mercury in dentistry, (my letters dated 31st July 1996 and 3 September 1996; NHMRC’s replies dated 20 August 1996 and 10 September 1996....copies of which I would be happy to forward to you) it appears that NHMRC policy on this issue was the result of the process which produced the above booklet and that there was no other report or review produced apart from the booklet. It did not appear, from the replies I received, that the booklet was a simplified byproduct of any written report or review, but that in fact, the booklet WAS the policy.

Assuming you confirm the accuracy of the above comments, is it reasonable to say, since the booklet was withdrawn, that the NHMRC policy on dental amalgams and mercury is suspended until such time as the matter is resolved. If the booklet WAS the policy is it also fair to say that the "policy creation" process will need to be redone to reflect the most current research before a new policy can be adopted.

I thank you for your time,

Yours sincerely,
Dr. Roman Lohyn

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Second Response From NHMRC (by fax) confirming withdrawal of policy statement

27th August 1997

Dear Dr Lohyn

I have received advice relating to your fax of 24 August. The answers are as follows:

1. The booklet that has been withdrawn was the only product. There is no other report or review from which this booklet was a "simplified by-product".

2. Yes. it is correct to say that as the booklet has been withdrawn there is no NHMRC policy statement on this topic.

3. Yes it will be necessary to do a full review of the scientific literature to ensure that any future advice is up to date and evidence based. However any further action is dependent upon NHAC/NHMRC believing that this topic is worthy of priority attention and thus putting it on the work program

Sincerely
signed Stephen Leeder

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ASOMAT reply confirming advice of withdrawal of policy (by fax)

8th September, 1997

Dear Professor Leeder,

Thank you for your fax dated 28th August confirming that the withdrawal of the booklet on ‘Dental amalgams and mercury in dentistry’ means that there is currently no NHMRC policy on this issue and that a full review will be necessary before a new policy is formulated. You also said that further action would depend upon the NHAC/NHMRC believing that this topic is worthy of priority attention. Your prompt and unambiguous replies are a refreshing change. Thank you.

I am the current president of ASOMAT (Australasian Society of Oral Medicine and Toxicology) which was formed in Jan 1994 precisely because of this issue. Our members, primarily dentists and medical doctors, believe that the use of dental amalgam fillings is incompatible with sound preventive health care because of the continuous release of mercury from these fillings. We are affiliated with IAOMT (International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology), which was formed fourteen years ago for the same reason as ASOMAT. IAOMT has demonstrated its concern by funding research in this area, the most recent showing the transfer of mercury from amalgam fillings through maternal breast milk to neonates. The goals of our society are to educate the dental and medical professions and to be a source of current information regarding the various research being done. So far we have staged three 2-day conferences with a fourth on the drawing board.

We believe that there needs to be an official recommendation that amalgam fillings not be placed in the mouths of pregnant women or very young children. You may be interested to know that the German and Norwegian Health Authorities have made exactly such recommendations to their own dental professions. Canada Health, in the wake of the recent Richardson report which recommended a maximum of 4 amalgams for adults, three for teenagers and one for young children and toddlers, has made a similar statement, as well as recommending that people with kidney, immunological or neurological problems consider alternative materials for their fillings, because of their particular concerns about mercury exposure. No advice has been given, nor discussion taken place about such particular cases within any Australian Dental Association publication with the result that virtually no dentist in Australia is even aware that patients in those situations might find it prudent to consider alternatives. There is also evidence of health problems within the dental profession itself as a result of mercury exposure.

The research evidence on this whole issue is extensive and I would be delighted to make available to you as much of it as we have. The dental professions worldwide have aggressively resisted the notion of any connection between health problems and amalgam fillings. The Australian Dental Association has been no exception. As a result, the flow of information to the membership, regarding research questioning the use of amalgams, has not been as broad and unimpeded as it might have been, with the result that the majority of Australian dentists are not aware of the extent of the research on this issue. This is further aggravated by the fact that almost all the research which can be viewed as negative to the use of amalgams is published in medical journals rather than dental.

It is ASOMAT’s view that this issue is a medical problem and that the dental profession does not have the resources to research this subject adequately. It is also ASOMAT’s view that this issue is important enough to warrant examination by NHAC/NHMRC, with a view to formulating a more appropriate evidence based policy which reflects the full extent of recent research. ASOMAT would welcome an opportunity to be part of any such process. Please do not hesitate to let me know if we can be of assistance.

Thank you for your time,

Yours sincerely,
Dr. Roman Lohyn

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Final fax from NHMRC with no disagreement about interpretation of advice given regarding withdrawal of amalgam policy. (by fax)

 

11th September 1997

Dear Dr. Lohyn,

Thank you for your fax of 8th September 1997. The matter has been listed for discussion at the NHAC meeting on 15th and 16th September 1997. At this time NHAC will be deciding its course of action regarding dental amalgam and mercury.

Your correspondence has been included in the agenda and will inform our discussions.

I would appreciate receiving copies of the literature you referred to in your letter.

Many thanks for informing me of these issues.

Sincerely
signed Stephen Leeder
Chair
NHAC

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