WHO: Pharma interests didn’t influence flu verdict

This piece by the Associated Press is an update of the unfolding story concerning the influence of pharmaceutical companies on World Health Organisation decisions concerning the swine flu. We are several months away from an expert panel report but in the interim speculation runs high and conspiracy theories abound. Whichever way things turn out in the future, it is quite certain that both public and private sector institutional buyers of vaccines will think twice before investing significant sums in stockpiling flu vaccines. While stockpiling can be a form of insurance for a likely future pandemics, it can also be a terribly expensive and futile exercise if pandemic guidelines are biased and lack transparency.

Best regards, Joao

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GENEVA — The head of the World Health Organization on Tuesday strongly rejected suggestions that her decisions about swine flu were influenced by advisers' links to pharmaceutical companies. "At no time, not for one second, did commercial interests enter my decision-making," WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said. She also dismissed claims the global health body had stirred unnecessary public fear over the pandemic. Her statement came in response to an article in the British Medical Journal that questioned the way WHO managed conflicts of interest among its scientific advisers and the transparency of its advice to governments. WHO's handling of the outbreak is being reviewed by a 29-member expert panel that will report its findings next year. Critics say many of the panelists are also trusted WHO advisers and government employees who could end up whitewashing any failures.

Source: Associated Press

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