Exposing WHO Influenza Advisers: They're
Paid By The Pharmaceutical Industry
Several of the WHO's influenza advisers are paid by the pharmaceutical
industry. Conflicts of interest have encouraged the industry to
influence the decision that the H1N1 swine flu is a pandemic -
and that the vaccine is necessary to defeat the disease.
On June 11, 2009, WHO Director General Margaret Chan stated that
the swine influenza was a pandemic. It meant a huge economic benefit
for the pharmaceutical industry. Many member countries - including
Denmark - have contracts with major pharmaceutical companies and
are therefore obligated to purchase vaccines in the event of a
Investment bank JP Morgan estimates that the pharmaceutical
industry may well receive vaccine orders up to 10 billion this
year. Much of the turnover is due to the WHO's decision.
Many of the apparently impartial researchers the WHO uses are
paid by the companies that produce vaccines.
The double roles are problematic, believes Professor Tom Jefferson,
who is epidemiologist at the Cochrane Center in Rome:
"It is worrying that many members of WHO committees, signing
himself with other titles, although they actually represent the
pharmaceutical industry," he said.
One of the experts in the WHO H1N1-specific advisory group, Dr.
Albert Ostenhaus, has been a significant figure on the Dutch government's
agenda. The Government has convened a crisis meeting because of
an article in Science where it has emerged that Albert Ostenhaus
has economic interests in several pharmaceutical companies.
Meanwhile, Dr. Albert Ostenhaus in the Netherlands is known
as' Dr Flu' because he promotes as the solution to epidemics.
Dr. Frederick Hayden is an outside expert in WHO's SAGE (strategize
Advisory Group of Experts), which advises WHO on vaccines. He
appears in the official papers as flu-research coordinator from
the anonymous organization "The Welcome Trust in London."
But in a Google search shows that Dr. Hayden has many other employers.
He is in particular a 'paid adviser' for pharmaceutical companies
Roche, RW Johnson, SmithKline Beecham and Glaxo Wellcome.
Dr. Arnold Monto, who also appears as an invited expert on SAGE's
members list of paid consultants in association with MedImmune
(which produces the intranasal flu vaccine), Glaxo Wellcome and
ViroPharma. SAGE 's list says he is only listed as the head of
a department at the University of Michigan.
"There is a huge pharmaceutical lobby in the WHO, and it
has been this way for so long. It is hard to see through what
is the industry's interest and what is factual information,"
says specialist in community medicine, and former employee at
the university Mauri Johansson.
The minutes from the SAGE meeting, held on July 7th stipulated
that: "It will probably be necessary to give two doses of
vaccine to ensure protection," although several researchers
have pointed out that a single vaccine should be enough. The minutes
also recommended that all health professionals and all pregnant
women be vaccinated. Furthermore, there is a need for "a
better understanding of the global vaccine demand 'and members'
are invited to consider the use of vaccine as part of their pandemic
Tom Jefferson of Cochrane encountered mysterious recommendations
from the WHO:
"The WHO's latest recommendations on the control of pandemic
influenza has stitches and frequent washing of hands mentioned
twice. Vaccines and antivirals are however mentioned 24 and 18
times. "Why would an international public health agency focus
on expensive interventions such as vaccines and medication when
it is not proven that they work?" he said and stresses that
washing is the best sanitizing method known.
Wolf Dieter Ludwig, head of drug commission of the German Medical
Association is no doubt about what has happened:
"The authorities have succumb to a campaign by pharmaceutical
companies, which seeks to monetize a non-existent threat,"
he told Der Spiegel.
According to Tom Jefferson, the result should be that the WHO
"The counselors must be separated from the WHO-makers and
those who evaluate the WHO recommendations. And we must ensure
that nobody can get away with non-publication of their conflicts
of interest, "he says.
Something to contribute
WHO spokesman, Gregory Hartl, believes that it is quite natural
that the pharmaceutical industry participate in WHO meetings.
"Everybody has something to contribute in this process -
industry, NGOs and professional players - so we can gather all
information. They can not vote, they have no influence on the
outcome, and they can only speak when they are asked. When we
make vaccine recommendations, we need knowledge about what is
required to produce a vaccine. It is the only manufacturer who
has the knowledge. "
Frederick Hayden and Alfred Monto attended the meeting on July
7th by experts from a university, but they were both paid by the
pharmaceutical industry. Information about their financial ties
are just not publicly available in the WHO auspices. Why not?
"All staff must sign the declaration of conflicts of interest,
so we are clear about their background. But again, Frederick Hayden
is the best influenza viral specialist in the world, so if you
want to know how an influenza behaves, you ask Fred Hayden. That
is why there are differences between observers and participants.
But why not publish the financial information to the public?
"I'm not sure why we did not publish it ... I can not answer
you on '.
When scientists from the WHO warn millions of people on a deadly
pandemic and recommended vaccine, and then if it is exposed that
he has financial interests, will it have some impact in the World
"No ...the WHO has a system that guarantees independence.
We are aware that we do not let anything or anyone influence us.
Will the WHO continue to conceal the medical experts' financial
'I will not speak on that... it is possible that we will look
at a code of disclosure for financial information, but I can not
promise anything. "
A full list of h1n1 vaccine ingredients, alerts and warnings.
Reference Sources information.dk/215355
November 19, 2009