Conflicts of Interest
– A joint investigation by the BMJ and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism has uncovered evidence that raises troubling questions about how WHO managed conflicts of interest among the scientists who advised its pandemic planning
– The secrecy of the committee is also fuelling conspiracy theories, particularly around the activation of dormant pandemic vaccine contracts. A key question will be whether the pharmaceutical companies, which had invested around $4bn (£2.8bn, 3.3bn) in developing the swine flu vaccine, had supporters inside the emergency committee
– Was it appropriate for WHO to take advice from experts who had declarable financial and research ties with pharmaceutical companies producing antivirals and influenza vaccines?
– Why was key WHO guidance authored by an influenza expert who had received payment for other work from Roche, manufacturers of oseltamivir, and GlaxoSmithKline, manufacturers of zanamivir?
– Why does the composition of the emergency committee from which Chan sought guidance remain a secret known only to those within WHO?
– Our investigation has identified key scientists involved in WHO pandemic planning who had declarable interests, some of whom are or have been funded by pharmaceutical firms that stood to gain from the guidance they were drafting
– FDA’s advisory committee voted by 13 to 4 not to approve zanamivir on the grounds that it was no more effective than placebo when the patients were on other drugs such as paracetamol. He said that it didn’t reduce symptoms even by a day.
– conflicts of interest have never been publicly disclosed by WHO, and WHO has dismissed inquiries into its handling of the A/H1N1 pandemic as “conspiracy theories.”
– the advisory committee decided not to recommend zanamivir, the FDA’s management reassigned the oseltamivir review to someone else. Dr Elashoff believes that the approval of zanamivir paved the way for oseltamivir, which was approved by the FDA later that year.
– “WHO never publishes individual DOIs [declaration of interest], except after consultation with the Office of the Director-General.
Deborah Cohen, features editor, BMJ, Philip Carter, journalist, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, London
Key scientists advising the World Health Organization on planning for an influenza pandemic had done paid work for pharmaceutical firms that stood to gain from the guidance they were preparing. These conflicts of interest have never been publicly disclosed by WHO, and WHO has dismissed inquiries into its handling of the A/H1N1 pandemic as “conspiracy theories.” Deborah Cohen and Philip Carter investigate
Next week marks the first anniversary of the official declaration of the influenza A/H1N1 pandemic. On 11 June 2009 Dr Margaret Chan, the director general of the World Health Organization, announced to the world’s media: “I have conferred with leading influenza experts, virologists, and public health officials. In line with procedures set out in the International Health Regulations, I have sought guidance and advice from an Emergency Committee established for this purpose. On the basis of available evidence, and these expert assessments of the evidence, the scientific criteria for an influenza pandemic have been met…The world is now at the start of the 2009 influenza pandemic.” Continue reading “WHO and the pandemic flu “conspiracies” – The BMJ and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism report that was covered up”