Centre for Health Research and Education (CHRE)

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The Centre for Health Research and Education (CHRE) states that it is “A health research and education company run by medical doctors in service of public health” and its aim is “bridging the policy & practice gap”.1 In 2019, CHRE received a grant from the Foundation for a Smoke Free World (FSFW), an organisation wholly funded by Philip Morris International (PMI).2

Background

According to the CHRE website, the company is based in Hampshire, UK, at the University of Southampton Science Park.345 It was registered as a private limited company with UK Companies House in August 2018, with the registered business address in Chandlers Ford, Hampshire.26.

CHRE’s stated goal is “preventing Cancer through research and evidence based policy and practice interventions” and it identifies its priorities as smoking cessation and obesity prevention. The cessation resources on its website recommend Nicotine Replacement Therapies (NRT) and e-cigarettes.7

Its website states that “CHRE does not receive any funds from tobacco, pharmaceutical or e-cigarette companies”.8

It also states that:

“If there are research and evidence gaps regarding “unhealthy” behaviours, those gaps need to be plugged by all the stakeholder groups that have a vested interest in improving public health in the context of those behaviours. We are committed in advocating for and enabling such research, shaping policy, and help bridge the divide between policy and practice.”
[original text in bold]9

Activities

On the centre’s “Projects” webpage it states that it is “working with local partners in South Asia to build capacity among healthcare professionals in tobacco de-addicton [sic] and national health programmes for TB, cancer prevention and Maternal and Child Health.”10 Other CHRE material states that they have projects in India and Bangladesh.11

The Projects webpage includes a logo for a “Tobacco Research and Cessation Network” (TRC-NET) but there is no further information on CHRE’s website about this network.10 The logo is also included on web pages and materials for CHRE’s summits on cessation and mental health (see below).

Relationship with the tobacco industry

According to the FSFW 2019 tax return, in November 2019, CHRE was awarded a grant of US$450,115 (GB£348,570) to fund a “Smoke-free UK landscaping project – reaching the ‘hardcore’ of smokers and supporting quitting”.2 The tax return also stated that the aim of the funding was to “Achieve and sustain smokefree at UK’s Priory Group Mental Health Hospitals”.2 As of 23 June 2020, there were no details of the FSFW grant on the CHRE website, although there was a statement on a separately hosted event listing (see below).

The Priory Group is a private healthcare company that provides services to the UK National Health Service (NHS) and was listed as a co-sponsor of CHRE’s 2019 and 2020 mental health summits (see below).12 A Director of Priory Group gave a presentation on smoking cessation and mental health at CHRE’s summit in September 2019.13 Searches of the Priory Group website in May 2020 for mentions of CHRE produced no results until a blog post was published on 31 May, on World No Tobacco Day.14 This stated that “At Priory Group, we have been working with experts from Centre for Health Research and Education (CHRE) to upskill and empower our staff to provide support to patients for quitting smoking successfully.”14 It quoted Dr Rick Driscoll, Visiting Consultant at Priory Hospital Bristol and Expert Adviser to the CHRE, and said that Priory had been working with CHRE since 2019 “to support all willing smoker patients in their quitting journey”.14

CHRE declared the FSFW grant on an event listing for its 2020 “Smoke-Free Mental Health Summit”.15  The text, in small type at the bottom of the page (see Figure 1), stated that “FSFW has no role in determining the agenda, content or programme of the project including the Summits.” 15 This event was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. As of May 2020, it was not clear whether or when the event would take place.


Figure 1: Screenshot of CHRE event web page with reference to the FSFW grant.15


Also due to speak at the September 2019 summit was Sudhanshu Patwardhan, Medical Director of CHRE. Dr Patwardhan worked for British American Tobacco (BAT) from 2005 until February 2019 (see below).16

On a BAT webpage, in connection to its 2008 Sustainability Report, he described his role as BAT’s “interface with the medical and public health communities” and stated that:17

“One of the biggest challenges we face is our limited freedom to finance external research because of restrictions on third parties receiving funds from the tobacco industry. It’s frustrating that, unlike other multinational companies, we are unable to collaborate freely with academic centres of excellence to drive science and innovation. We are actively seeking constructive solutions to overcome this challenge”.17

Key staff

CHRE’s website did not have a page listing staff, as of May 2020.  According to Companies House, its two directors and sole shareholders are Sudhanshu Ramesh and Patwardhan Pooja Sudhanshu Patwardhan.1819

Sudhanshu Patwardhan is named as Medical Director.16 His role has been described as including responsibility for Policy.20 According to his LinkedIn profile, he worked for British American Tobacco (BAT) for nearly 14 years. From 2005 to 2008, he held scientific roles. From 2008 to 2013, he was responsible for “Corporate and Regulatory Affairs” where he “Strategically led the business to make the first global acquisition by a FTSE 10 company in the electronic cigarettes category, to bring scale and global availability of reduced risk alternatives for smokers who would not or could not quit smoking”.16 BAT’s first e-cigarette acquisition was Vype in 2012. In 2013, he then went on to work in BAT’s Next Generation Product (NGP) company Nicoventures, on the “global nicotine KOL ecosystem to facilitate smoking cessation and serve public health”16 (The term KOL stands for “Key Opinion Leaders”). During this time, his job title was Senior International Engagement Manager.2122 He left BAT in February 2019.16

Sudhanshu Patwardhan is listed as a mentor for the Tobacco Harm Reduction Scholarship programme run by Knowledge-Action-Change (K-A-C), which is also funded by FSFW.223

He was listed as a speaker at the Global Forum on Nicotine (organised by K-A-C) in 2016,24 and in 2018.2526 He has also attended the tobacco industry event the Global Tobacco and Nicotine Forum (GTNF), previously called the Global Tobacco and Networking Forum.

Pooja Patwardhan’s role is Clinical Director of CHRE.15 As of June 2020, her LinkedIn profile states that she is a “Medical Doctor: Self-employed” but contains no further information.27 She has been registered as a General Practitioner (GP) with the UK General Medical Council (GMC) since 2011, is licensed to practice in the UK, and is on the GP register (a requirement to be employed as a GP in the UK).28

Sudhanshu Patwardhan has been registered as a (GP) with the GMC since 2013, and is licensed to practice in the UK. As of June 2020 he is not listed on the GP register.29

Outputs

FSFW Podcast

On 29 April 2020, Pooja Patwardhan took part in a podcast on ‘global health perspectives’ hosted by Derek Yach, President of FSFW.3031 The FSFW website states that she has “upskilled and empowered 100s of influencers in UK as well as in India, as part of the mission of creating local champions, to support tobacco users in their quitting journey”.30 It also states that she has been “at the forefront of creating and disseminating “Quit During Covid” message using innovative ways”.30 It is not clear what the term “influencer” here refers to as no further details are given on the website.

Articles

On 7 April 2020, Pooja Patwardhan published an article in BJP Open, the journal of the British College of General Practitioners, discussing the risks for smoking rates rising during the COVID-pandemic.32 According to the author’s disclosure on this paper “PP or CHRE have not received any funding from pharmaceutical, electronic cigarette, or tobacco industries.”32 The article was not peer reviewed.32

Sudhanhsu Patwardhan published a related blog article on the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) website.33 The conflict of interest statement said that “SP or CHRE do not receive any funding from pharmaceutical, electronic cigarette or tobacco industries.”33Pooja Patwardhan also contributed a news item on the RSPH website where she talks further about the role of GPs and smoking cessation during the Covid-19 pandemic and the material the CHRE has produced for GPs.34 There is no mention of who funds the CHRE in the article or on the infographics produced.

On 26 May 2020, Pooja Patwardhan published a blog post on the same topic in Nicotine Science and Policy, which is produced by Knowledge-Action-Change.3536. In the blog, Dr Patwardhan said:

“As a practising GP and a firm believer in preventive medicine, I have been involved in upskilling GPs and other clinicians on smoking cessation around the world. I have seen that when accurate information reaches them in a practice-friendly way from another clinician, they are very receptive and supportive of helping their patients quit smoking and manage cravings using the harm reduction principle.”36

Nicotine Science and Policy offers readers “daily news, research, comment and policy analysis on nicotine containing products, electronic cigarettes and other novel nicotine delivery systems.”37

A short communication paper written by Sudhanshu Patwardhan and Ira Banerjee was published in the Journal of Addiction Science on 8 May 2020 on “Nicotine Withdrawal, the Role of NRT in Hospitalised Smoker Patients and its Implications for Covid-19”.38 The paper stated that Ira Banerjee was Communications Manager at CHRE, and that neither the authors nor the centre received funding from tobacco companies.

On 4 June a paper about cessation in mental health settings written by Pooja Patwardhan and Richard Driscoll (Visiting Consultant at Bristol Priory Hospital and CHRE) was published on the e-journal website ecancer medical science.39 The conflict of interest statement said that “PP or CHRE have not received any funding from pharmaceutical, electronic cigarette or tobacco industries”. The funding statement said that “CHRE has received a grant for a project in Smokefree Mental Health from The Foundation for Smokefree World”.

Presentations

Prior to the FSFW grant being awarded, Sudhanshu Patwardhan gave a presentation at CHRE’s smoking cessation summit on 30 September 2019, titled “Smoking Cessation and Mental Health What does the future hold for us?”.40 One presentation slide included an image of Nordic Spirit, a snus-type nicotine pouch made by Japan Tobacco International (JTI).40 It is not known if the product was discussed as a cessation tool at the conference. The same slide contained a graphic representing the Voke nicotine inhaler, a product licensed by the British Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) as a medicine since 2014.41 Until 2017, BAT had a commercial agreement with Kind Consumer Ltd to commercialise this device, but the product was never marketed directly by the tobacco company. In 2017, the licence was handed back to Kind Consumer, which began selling Voke in 2019.  Sudhanshu Patwardhan was working for Nicoventures during the period Voke was licenced to BAT.16

Partnerships

Sudhanshu Patwardhan stated in his 2019 CHRE summit presentation slide that “CHRE is working with technology and healthcare partners to rapidly test and roll out innovation in smoking cessation”. Its partners were not specified.40

His speaker profile at the 2016 GFN stated that he worked with the British Standards Institute (BSI) steering group “to create the world’s first quality and safety specifications for vapour products” and that he was a “Co-convenor at the European CEN working group on definitions and terminology related to vapour products”.24 He was working for BAT during this period.16

Events

In September 2019, CHRE organised a conference on smoking cessation and mental health in partnership with Priory Health Group.42 Its 2020 Smoke Free Mental Health Summit, funded by FSFW, was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.15

On 5 May, Sudhanshu Patwardhan was hosted for a Twitter chat by the pan-African Centre for Harm Reduction Alternatives (CASA).43 Based in Kenya, CASA’s Chair is Joseph Mageuro, who has received scholarship funding from the FSFW-funded organisation Knowledge-Action-Change.44 As of 17 May 2020, CASA’s website listed Tobacco Harm Reduction Malawi and Tobacco Harm Reduction Nigeria as its only members.45

Relevant Links

The Centre for Health Research and Education (CHRE) website

TobaccoTactics Resources

References

  1. The Centre for Health Research and Education, website home page, 2020, accessed May 2020
  2. abcdeFoundation for a Smoke-Free World, Form 990-PF, 2019 Tax Return, 15 May 2020, accessed May 2020
  3. Centre for Health Research and Education, Contact, website, undated, accessed May 2020
  4. Centre for Health Research and Education, Millions Risk Relapsing to Smoking Due to COVID-Related Stress and Isolation, Cision PR newswire, 8 April 2020, accessed May 2020
  5. Southampton Science Park, Researching healthy choices, website, 28 May 2020, accessed June 2020
  6. Companies House, Centre for Health Research and Education, Company number 11529802, accessed May 2020
  7. The Centre for Health Research and Education, Resources, website, undated, accessed May 2020
  8. The Centre for Health Research and Education, Covid-19 Resource Centre, website, undated, accessed May 2020
  9. The Centre for Health Research and Education, Our Philosophy, website, undated, accessed May 2020
  10. abThe Centre for Health Research and Education, Projects, website, undated, accessed May 2020
  11. The Centre for Health Research and Education, Smoke Free Mental Health Summit: Reclaiming the Stolen Years, 2020, accessed May 2020
  12. Priory Group, website homepage, accessed May 2020
  13. P. Cowans, Going Smoke Free: Challenges and Benefits, presentation slides, 30 September 2019, accessed May 2020
  14. abcPriory Group, World No Tobacco Day – stopping smoking during the coronavirus outbreak, website, 31 May 2020, accessed June 2020
  15. abcdeCentre for Health Research and Education, Smoke-Free Mental Health Summit: Reclaiming the Stolen Years 2020, event website, undated, accessed May 2020
  16. abcdefgDr. Sudhanshu Patwardhan, LinkedIn profile, undated, accessed May 2020
  17. abBritish American Tobacco, An employee’s perspective: Dr Sudhanshu Patwardhan, International Scientific Affairs Manager Medical and Public Health, London, UK, www.souzacruz.com.br, undated, archived 20 May 2020, accessed May 2020
  18. Companies House, Centre for Health Research and Education: Persons With Significant Control, accessed May 2020
  19. Companies House, Certificate of Incorporation: Centre for Health Research and Education, 21 August 2018, accessed May 2020
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  21. British American Tobacco, Inspiring Products, Driving Change: Harm Reduction Focus Report 2016, accessed May 2020
  22. British American Tobacco, E-cigarettes: What’s the Real Medical Innovation Breakthrough, BAT Science website, 25 June 2014, accessed May 2020
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  24. abGlobal Forum on Nicotine, GFN 2016 Snapshot, accessed May 2020
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  27. Pooja Patwardhan, LinkedIn profile, undated, accessed May 2020
  28. General Medical Council, Pooja Sudhanshu Patwardhan, GMC reference no: 6107145, GMC medical register,  accessed June 2020
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  30. abcFoundation for a Smoke Free World, Global Health Perspectives with Derek Yach, undated, accessed May 2020
  31. Foundation for a Smoke Free World, Global Health Perspectives Episode 9: Dr Pooja Patwardhan, Soundcloud, 29 April 2020
  32. abcP. Patwardhan, Risk of increase in smoking rates among England’s 6 million smokers and relapse among England’s 11 million ex-smokers, BJP Open, 7 April 2020,DOI:10.3399/bjgpopen20X101067/
  33. abS. Patwardhan, Guest Blog: COVID-19 related stress and social isolation: Risk of millions relapsing back to smoking worldwide, Royal Society for Public Health website, 8 April 2020
  34. P.Patwardhan, Covid-19 and Smoking: Act Now to Prevent a Health Calamity from Happening, 7 May 2020, accessed May 2020
  35. Nicotine Science and Policy, home page, nicotinepolicy.net, undated, accessed May 2020
  36. abP. Patwardhan, Covid-19: GPs – crucial influencers in realising tobacco harm reduction, Nicotine Science and Policy, 26 May 2020, accessed May 202
  37. Nicotine Science and Policy, newsletter sign up, undated, accessed May 2020
  38. S. Patwardhan, I. Banerjee I,  Nicotine Withdrawal, the Role of NRT in Hospitalised Smoker Patients and its Implications, Journal of Addiction Science, 8 May 2020,  6(S1): S1-S4
  39. P. Patwardhan, R. Driscoll , ‘Quit During COVID-19’—staying smokefree in mental health in-patient settings, 4 June 2020,  ecancer 14 ed102
  40. abcS. Patwardhan, Smoking Cessation and Mental Health What does the future hold for us?, presentation slides, 30 September 2019, accessed May 2020
  41. Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, e Voke 10mg Electronic Inhaler PL 42601/0003 e-Voke 15mg Electronic Inhaler PL 42601/0004 (Nicotine) UKPAR Nicovations Limited, last updated November 2015, accessed May 2020
  42. The Centre for Health Research and Education, Smoke Free Mental Health, 2020, accessed May 2020
  43. Centre for Harm Reduction Alternatives (@GoingSmokefree), Tweet: Welcome to our twitter chat as we host @Dr_Sud to discuss “Innovative approaches to support smoking cessation”, Twitter, 5 May 2020, accessed May 2020
  44. Looking for Change, Tobacco Reporter, 19 March 2019, accessed May 2020
  45. Campaign for Safer Alternatives, Member Organizations, website, undated, accessed May 2020