Data from 180,000 lung cancer patients in the United Kingdom have been turned over to a company that works for a US tobacco giant.
Public Health England released 179,040 anonymous NHS records covering each lung tumor diagnosed between 2009 and 2013 to William E Wecker Associates, a firm that works for Philip Morris International.
According to the Daily Telegraph, which disclosed disclosure in an investigation, it is now feared that tobacco companies may use information in legal cases to downplay the health risks of smoking.
The consulting firm Wecker has been working for the tobacco company that owns Marlboro for more than 30 years.
He testified on behalf of the giant in the 2006 United States case against Philip Morris, in which several companies were held responsible for misleading the American public about the dangers of tobacco.
PHE said that it conducted due diligence checks to ensure that patients could not be identified from the data and said that it continued. Mr. Wecker told PHE that the data, requested by the FOI laws, was for a international study to help identify factors that reduce the risk of cancerous tumors, which in turn would improve public health.  Wecker also said that he wanted to examine historical trends in some subtypes of lung cancer in Australia, Ireland, the United Kingdom and the USA. UU And that the study would extend an analysis of the relationships between tobacco consumption and cancer reported in the 2014 report of the Surgeon General.
Dr. Jem Rashbass, PHE's National Director of Disease Registry and Cancer Analysis, said: "We disclose this information in accordance with our legal duty to comply with the Freedom of Information Act." Patient confidentiality is paramount. and we have ensured that sensitive or identifiable patient information has not been disclosed.
"Any organization or individual may submit an FOI request and has a legal right to a response, provided there is no exemption. "