WHO Reveals H1N1 Experts’ Industry Ties

The World Health Organization has released the names of experts with ties to the pharmaceutical industry who advised the UN agency about the swine flu pandemic.

Of the 15 experts the WHO used when deciding to designate the H1N1 outbreak a pandemic, six declared potential conflicts of interest, including receiving support from the pharmaceutical industry and vaccine manufacturers.

The experts were from the fields of epidemiology, public health, international air travel and health and came from Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and North America, according to a list posted on the UN health agency’s website on Wednesday.

The list named the following individuals:

  • Dr. Claude Thibeault, a consultant medical advisor to the International Air Transport Association in Montreal.
  • Nancy Cox, from the U.S. 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.
  • Arnold Monto, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, declared current and past consultancies on pandemic or seasonal influenza research for pharmaceutical companies GSK, Novartis, Roche, Baxter and Sanofi Pasteur, including a grant from Sanofi for a clinical trial in 2007-2008 for influenza vaccines.
  • Dr. John Wood’s research unit at the National Institute for Biological Standards and Control, a centre of the U.K. Health Protection Agency, has performed contract research for pharmaceutical firms Sanofi Pasteur, CSL, IFPMA, Novartis and Powdermed in the field of influenza vaccine research and development.
  • Professor Maria Zambon of the U.K. Health Protection Agency Centre for Infection receives funding from vaccine manufacturers, including Sanofi, Novartis, CSL, Baxter and GSK, for contract work in her laboratory.
  • Professor Neil Morris Ferguson acted as a consultant for pharmaceutical firms Roche and GSK Biologicals up until 2007.

WHO director general Dr. Margaret Chan declared the H1N1 pandemic officially over on Tuesday.

Chan has rejected allegations that the WHO allowed influence from drug companies to affect its decision to declare the pandemic.

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