WHO experts are “moonlighting” for pharmaceutical industry

Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet has revealed that key decision makers at the World Health Organization (WHO) are also being paid by the pharmaceutical companies manufacturing the vaccine.

In the run-up to declaring swine flu as a pandemic, the WHO held an “Emergency Committee” which consisted of 18 “secret” scientists and medical professionals who met to decide whether to recommend upgrading swine flu to a pandemic. No one is allowed to know the name of these 18 people and the final decision is taken by the head of the WHO Director-General Margaret Chan.

Svenska Dagbladet thought this sounded a tiny bit undemocratic so decided to dig into the mysterious identities of this secretive board and guess what? Some of them are moonlighting for the pharmaceutical industry in consultation and advisory roles. Three of the fifteen members of the Emergency Committee have contacts with the pharmaceutical industry and receive money directly from vaccine companies according to the paper.

I notice that very few media or internet sites have picked-up on this story yet which is a little strange because it’s a rather serious conflict of interest don’t you think?

There is a rather complicated graphic here illustrating various links between the WHO and the pharmaceutical companies manufacturing the swine flu vaccine.


4 thoughts on “WHO experts are “moonlighting” for pharmaceutical industry

  1. Pingback: WHO experts are moonlighting for pharmaceutical industry | swine flu pandemic

  2. I guess it makes sense (not saying it’s right mind) that the top WHO scientists, who I assume are close to the top of the sector are also involved with companies that produce the vaccine themselves. The expert elite. Maybe there should be a blanket ban on WHO scientists engaging the private sector but then again there sadly needs to be some engagement as the WHO could never compete in the pharmaceutical world if they were to go into medicine production. Again it comes back to the system. Not good.

  3. I think we always have to be sceptical about any stories that have a conspiracy theory element to them but this one is highly believable.

    Genuine separation, independence and honest disclosure are too rare in so many policy making organisations.

    In September I published a blog:[http://www.bretthetherington.net/Modules/Blog/Pages/BlogEntry.aspx?BlogEntryId=396]where a British doctor from the public health system asks:

    1. If governments have confidence in the safety of the [swine flu] vaccine, why has Kathleen Sebelius, the US Secretary of Health and Human Services, felt it necessary to sign a document making federal officials and vaccine makers immune from lawsuits related to any ill-effects from the vaccine?

    2. Why has the UK government sent letters to neurologists asking them to be on the alert for neurological complications caused by the immunisation?

  4. In the article, Svenska Dagbladet interview the WHO. The spokesman says that although the committee members identities cannot be revealed to avoid “pressures” on them, he does say that each one is vetted to make sure they have no conflicting interests with the pharmaceutical industries manufacturing the vaccine.

    What they use for this criteria is not clear however. And it’s obviously quite possible that some of the members might “accidentally” forget to reveal a company they are consulting for during the vetting process.

    However, I agree Brett that it’s wise to be skeptical about reading too much into this. I’m the last one that wants to add fuel to “conspiracy” theories regarding this issues. For example, Spanish doctors quite frequently work for the public health service in the mornings and private hospitals in the evening. There are bound to be some that use this to their advantage when diagnosing patients but I think they will be a minority. I actually wrote an article about this specific issue a while back which I’ll upload soon.

    As regards the safety of the vaccine, the points outlined in your post Brett are the ones that also concern me. Especially if medical professionals are refusing it, it doesn’t inspire much confidence. I wrote about this too here a while back:


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