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Update: Conflict of Interest on WHO Secret Vaccination Committee

WHO Advisor Secretly Pads Pockets with Big Pharma Money

Posted by: Dr. Mercola
January 07 2010

A Finnish member of the World Health Organization board, an advisor on vaccines, has received 6 million Euros for his research center from the vaccine manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline.

Although WHO promises transparency, this conflict of interest is not available for the public to see at WHO’s homepage.

Professor Juhani Eskola is the director of the Finnish research vaccine program and a new member of the WHO group ‘Strategic Advisory Group of Experts’ (SAGE).

SAGE recommends which vaccines — and how many — member countries should purchase for the pandemic.

According to documents acquired through the Danish Freedom of Information Act, Eskola’s Finnish institute, THL, received almost 6.3 million Euros from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) for research on vaccines during 2009. GlaxoSmithKline produces the H1N1-vaccine ‘Pandemrix,’ which the Finnish government — following recommendations from THL and WHO — purchased for a national pandemic reserve stockpile.

Several other WHO experts also have financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry–a double role that notably is not published by WHO.


Friday, 18 December 2009 13:17


December 12, 2009

By Kristian Villesen and Louise Voller

The names of the members of a group that acts as advisers to WHO on the swine flu are a closely kept secret. The group advocated upgrading the status of the flu from epidemic to pandemic. Since then, pharmaceutical companies have sold more than 55-billion crowns worth of vaccines, writes the Danish daily news outlet “Information”.

WHO relies on a secret group of experts, the so-called Emergency Committee. The organisation consults this Emergency Committee on managing the swine flu.  The committee is at the epicentre of desicion-making and recommended the declaration of a swine flu pandemic to Director General, Margaret Chan. A recommendation that she implemented on June 11th this year, referring to the group of experts. This resulted in enormous economic gains for the pharmaceutical industry.

Many member countries – among them, Denmark – have contracts with the big pharma companies and are obliged to buy vaccines when WHO determines that a virus is a pandemic. The investment bank J.P. Morgan estimates that vaccines and other types of flu medicine amounting to more than 55 billions of crowns have been sold since this declaration.

In spite of the committee’s enormous influence and power, the public is not allowed to learn who the members of the committee actually are. As a consequence, the public is also denied access to information needed to check whether the members of this group are on the payroll of the pharma industry. The only information available to the public is that the committee consists of 18 people whom the Director General has selected from WHO’s list of experts.

But such a level of transparency is inadequate according to Peter Goetzsche, who is the leader of the independent research institution, Cochrane, in Copenhagen.

“It is not acceptable that a secret committee gives advice to WHO in a matter of such importance. There needs to be complete transparency over who they are and what conflicts of interests the committee may have. If this is not the case, people cannot have confidence in what is going on,” says Peter Goetzsche.

According to earlier information, WHO has members in it’s groups of consultants who are on the payroll of the pharma industry. Peter Goetzsche fears that this could also be the case with the Emergency Committee.

“That committee possesses enormous power. And yet we don’t know whether those people who are sitting on it receive money from or have stocks in those firms which produce the vaccines,” says Peter Goetzsche.

Managing director of Danish Board of Health, Jesper Fisker, agrees.

“It is unnacceptable that we cannot see who the members of the committee actually are and consequently cannot see what interests are represented. It has to be part of the common ambition of openness and transparency that we can see, what role the committee plays and who the members are,” he says and adds:  “The  more influential a committee is, the more important it is, that there is transparency. And if they have given advice concerning an important decision – and that seems to be the case – then it is even more important that there is transparency. This simply has to happen.”

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