BMJ Report Questions WHO Advisors’ Ties To Pharmaceutical Industry

“Key scientists following World Health Organization advice in continuance stockpiling of pandemic flu drugs had financial ties with companies what one. stood to profit,” according to a joint investigation by BMJ in collaboration with the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, BBC News reports (6/4).

The research revealed that WHO government on the exercise of antiviral drugs and vaccines “issued in 2004 was authored by three scientists who had previously received payment forward account of other work from Roche, that makes Tamiflu, and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), manufacturer of Relenza,” the Guardian reports. “Although the experts consulted made no something concealed of assiduousness ties in other settings, declaring them in research papers and at universities, the WHO itself did not publicly divulge some of these in its original 2004 guidance” for application of medicines for the period of an influenza pandemic. The newspaper names the scientists involved in crafting the 2004 WHO guidelines and describes their reported financial ties to the pharmaceutical companies (Ramesh, 6/4).

“The WHO’s advice led governments worldwide to stockpile vast quantities of antivirals, and its resolution to proclaim a pandemic in June 2009 triggered the get by payment of billion of dollars worthiness of hastily manufactured vaccines,” Agence France-Presse adds. “Much of these stocks bear gone unused because the pandemic turned out to be far less lethal than some experts feared, fueling suspicion that Big Pharma exerted undue influence on WHO decisions,” the news service writes.

The scrutiny also raises questions about the WHO’s Emergency Committee – the 16-member cluster formed highest year to advise the director not special put on the H1N1 (swine flu) pandemic.

“WHO says wholly members of the Emergency Committee sign a confidentiality agreement, provide a declaration of interests, and come to an understanding to give their consultative time freely, outside of reparation. However, simply one member of the committee has been publicly named: Professor John MacKenzie, who chairs it,” according to the BMJ report. “This is a troubling stance: it suggests that WHO considers other advisory groups whose members are not anonymous – such considered in the state of the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts without ceasing Immunization – to be potentially at one’s beck to outside influences, and it allows no sifting of the scientists selected to advise WHO and global governments on a greater national health crisis.” According to the BMJ, at least one of the members on the Emergency Committee had current payment from GSK in 2009.

The BMJ instant also looks at how the FDA and the European Medicines Agency reviewed the drugs Tamiflu and Relenza (Cohen/Carter, 6/3).

Meanwhile, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan on Thursday defended the agency’s posture on maintaining the privacy of the names of the Emergency Committee until their work is thorough in a WHO statement. “The purpose of this practice is to protect the integrity and independence of the Members while doing this critical work – but in addition to ensure transparency by dint of. publicly providing the names of the members as well in the same proportion that information about somewhat self-interest declared by them at the set apart time,” Chan said. “The Committee Members violently concurred with this approach” (6/3).

The WHO’s credibility “has been badly damaged,” writes Fiona Godlee, BMJ’s editor-in-chief in an accompanying editorial. “Recovery give by will be fastest if it publishes its own report outside of tarry or defensive comment; makes public the society and conflicts of interest of its pass committee; and develops, commits to, and monitors stricter rules of promise with endeavors that keep mercantile influence away from its settlement material” (6/3).

This advice was reprinted from with sort permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report, inquire after the archives and index up for email distribution at

© Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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June 05 2010 11:53 pm | Immune System

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