WHO list reveals pandemic flu advisors with industry ties

Aug 11, 2010

Five of the 15 experts that advised the World Health Organisation about swine flu pandemic alerts had received support from the drugs industry, including for flu vaccine research, the WHO revealed on Wednesday.

The agency released for the first time a list of the 15 members of the Emergency Committee headed by Australian tropical diseases professor John Mackenzie, who was the only member publicly named during the outbreak.

They came from Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin and North America, the list posted on the WHO's website showed.

Most were scientific researchers and epidemiologists, along with a Senegalese diplomat, public health officials from Thailand and Chile as well as two specialists on international air travel and health. The list can be seen at www.who.int/ihr/emerg_comm_mem… s_2009/en/index.html.

Critics had raised concerns about potential conflicts of interest that might have helped the drugs industry influence decisions on huge orders for special vaccines against A(H1N1) flu.

The WHO has repeatedly denied those claims, underlining that it had vetted members and maintained secrecy over their identities to protect them from undue pressure while the outbreak of swine flu was underway.

Six people declared interests to the UN health agency, including five researchers who disclosed past or current support from pharmaceutical firms, according to the WHO list.

Nancy Cox, from the US Centers for Disease Control, disclosed financial support from a drugs industry group, the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) for flu vaccine research and work on viruses in her unit.

US professor Arnold Monto declared current and past consultancies on pandemic or seasonal influenza research for GSK, Novartis, Roche, Baxter and Sanofi Pasteur.

He also declared a grant from Sanofi for a clinical trial in 2007-2008 related to influenza vaccines.

John Wood's research unit at Britain's National Institute for Biological Standards and Control (NIBSC), had undertaken research for Sanofi Pasteur, CSL, IFPMA, Novartis and Powdermed on influenza vaccine.

Professor Maria Zambon's laboratory at the UK Health Protection Agency Centre for Infection received funding from several vaccine makers, including Sanofi, Novartis, CSL, Baxter and GSK.

British professor Neil Ferguson, an advisor to the committee, had acted as a consultant for Roche and GSK Biologicals until 2007, according to the list.

The WHO said those interests "do not give rise to a conflict of interest such that the experts concerned should be partially or totally excluded from participation in the Emergency Committee."

The panel provided expert advice to the WHO Director General Margaret Chan about the new swine flu virus, allowing her to raise the alert when it was first uncovered in Mexico and the United States in April 2009.

It was also instrumental in the declaration of a pandemic with global spread of the disease in June 2009, triggering a chain of public health precautions including development and production of an influenza vaccine.

However, swine flu turned out to be less severe than feared.

As the virus petered out in North America and Europe in late 2009, governments sought to offload costly and huge stocks of unused vaccines and some European parliamentarians claimed the scare was unjustified.

Chan announced on Tuesday that the A(H1N1) influenza pandemic was officially over after more than 18,500 people died.

The WHO estimated that about 300 million people had been vaccinated worldwide.

Explore further: Preventing hepatitis C patients from being lost in the health-care system

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

World was 'lucky' with swine flu: WHO chief

May 17, 2010

World Health Organisation chief Margaret Chan said Monday that the world had been "lucky" with the swine flu pandemic after the virus failed to mutate to a more deadly form.

WHO chief: swine flu pandemic continues

Dec 29, 2009

(AP) -- Many more people could become sick with swine flu this winter even though it has peaked in North America and some European countries, the head of the World Health Organization said Tuesday.

GlaxoSmithKline taking pandemic vaccine orders

May 15, 2009

(AP) -- Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline said Friday it has received orders from several countries to stockpile pandemic vaccine as soon as it gets the vaccine's key ingredient from the World Health Organization.

WHO says swine flu pandemic is over

Aug 10, 2010

(AP) -- The World Health Organization declared the swine flu pandemic officially over Tuesday, months after many national authorities started canceling vaccine orders and shutting down hot lines as the disease ebbed from ...

Recommended for you

Researchers ferret out a flu clue

1 hour ago

Research that provides a new understanding as to why ferrets are similar to humans is set to have major implications for the development of novel drugs and treatment strategies.

In the battle against Ebola, a double-layer solution

4 hours ago

When working with Ebola patients, protective gear works, but removing it can be harrowing. Seeking to protect health care workers from the precarious nature of taking off soiled gloves, Cornell students have ...

User comments : 3

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

ClickHere
1 / 5 (1) Aug 11, 2010
Questionable efficacy of flu vaccine aside, I imagine it would be difficult to find 15 world experts on any topic who've not been funded at some point by one corporation or another. Research is follows the money.
Caliban
not rated yet Aug 11, 2010
Make Corporations and Trade Groups(and any other organizations receiving, indirectly or directly, corporate funding) pay taxes.

These taxes can then be distributed as general purpose research funding, without corporate influence.

In the case of, say, a corporate-funded "drug study", a standardized protocol should be followed by the testing agency, entirely devoid of any input or influence by the manufacturer, and then the results of the study could be objectively analysed and published/reported.

This model of direct-funded research with corporate oversight and intervention does not serve the commonweal. It serves the Corporate profit motive. The lethality of this approach has been demonstrated over and over and over and over....
DADDYBEAR
1 / 5 (2) Aug 12, 2010
18,500 died? The cost to do this hoax was in the billions. There are more people who die from the regular flu each year in a bad week world wide then this tripe. It was a non issue from the start and now they are destroying millions of doses as they are not needed? All who were involved in this hoax should be tried and sent to jail. Any firm that was involved in paying the people involved should be made to repay the billions they made on this fake scare.The WHO and the United Nations should be disbanded and sent packing as they have become corrupt to its core.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.