Six of 15 who experts who advised on flu pandemic had ties with pharmaceutical industry

Six of 15 who experts who advised on flu pandemic had ties with pharmaceutical industry

The WHO (World Health Organization) used the recommendations of 15 experts when deciding to class the H1N1 (swine flu) outbreak as a pandemic - 6 of them had declared potential conflicts of interest; they had close ties with drug and vaccine manufacturers. WHO released the names of the experts.

The following people were among the list of experts:

  • Dr. Claude Thibeault - worked as a consultant medical advisor for IATA (International Air Transport Association), Montreal, Canada since 2004.
  • Nancy Cox - Director, Influenza division, CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), Atlanta, USA. Declared financial support from a pharmaceutical company, IFPMA (International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations) for research on viruses and a flu vaccine.
  • Arnold Monto - Professor of epidemiology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Declared current and past consultancies in the field of pandemic and/or seasonal influenza for GSK, Novartis, Roche, Baxter and Sanofi. The remuneration for each of these consultancies is below US$10 000. In addition, his research unit at the University of Michigan has received a grant from Sanofi Pasteur for a clinical trial conducted in 2007-2008 on the comparative efficacy of inactivated and live attenuated influenza vaccines.
  • Dr. John Wood - Principal Scientist, Division of Virology, National Institute for Biological Standards and Control, Herts, United Kingdom. His research unit at the National Institute for Biological Standards and Control carried out contract research on behalf of Sanofi Pasteur, CSL, Novartis, Powdermed, and the IFPMA (International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations), involving vaccine R&D (research and development).
  • Professor Maria Zambon - Head of Respiratory Virus Unit, Virus Reference Department, Health Protection Agency, Centre for Infection, London, United Kingdom. Declared funding from Sanofi, Novartis, GlaxoSmithKline and Baxter for laboratory work.
  • Dr Lawson Ahadzie - Former Head of Surveillance Department, Ghana Health Service/Ministry of Health, Accra, Ghana (Dr Ahadzie's membership was suspended after the fifth Emergency Committee Meeting on becoming a WHO staff member).
  • Mr André Basse - Counsellor, Embassy of Senegal, Paris, France.
  • Dr Muhammad Akbar Chaudhry - Principal, Professor of Medicine, Fatima Jinnah Medical College, Lahore, Pakistan (Dr Chaudry's membership commenced with the sixth Emergency Committee Meeting).
  • Dr Supamit Chunssuttiwat - Senior Expert in Disease Control, Department of Disease Control, Ministry of Public Health, Bangkok, Thailand.
  • Dr Anthony Evans - Chief, Aviation Medicine Section, International Civil Aviation Organization, Montreal, Canada.
  • Professor John Mackenzie - Professor of Tropical Infectious Diseases, Division of Health Sciences, Curtin University, Perth, Australia.
  • Dr Fernando Otaiza - Coordinator, National Infection Control Program, Ministry of Health, Santiago, Chile.
  • Dr Rogelio Pérez Padilla - Director General, Instituto Nacional de Enfermedades Respiratorias "Ismael Cosío Villegas", Mexico City, Mexico.
  • Dr Wing Hong Seto - Chief of Service, Department of Microbiology, Queen Mary Hospital, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China.
  • Dr Masato Tashiro - Director, Department of Viral Diseases and Vaccine Control, National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Tokyo, Japan.
  • Advisor to the committee) Professor Neil Morris Ferguson - Chair in Mathematical Biology, Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Imperial College Faculty of Medicine, London, United Kingdom. Acted as a consultant for Roche and GSK Biologicals (ceasing in 2007), with total remuneration from all such work being under US$7 000 in 2007.
The World Health Organization (WHO) listed the members of the committee in its website recently, probably in response to criticism from the Council of Europe and an article in the BMJ (British Medical Journal):
    Was Flu Pandemic Advice By World Health Organization Compromised?
It is important to stress that although WHO had not made public some experts' ties to the pharmaceutical industry, the experts themselves had (the experts had declared potential conflicts of interest). The concern was not with the experts, but rather with WHO.

Pandemic now over

According to Dr Margaret Chan, Director General, World Health Organization:

The world is no longer in Phase VI of influenza pandemic alert - we are now moving into the post-pandemic period. The new H1N1 virus has largely run its course.

These are the views of members of the Emergency Committee, which was convened earlier today by teleconference.

The Committee based its assessment on the global situation, as well as reports from several countries that are now experiencing influenza. I fully agree with the Committee's advice.

As we enter the post-pandemic period, this does not mean that the H1N1 virus has gone away. Based on experience with past pandemics, we expect the H1N1 virus to take on the behaviour of a seasonal influenza virus and continue to circulate for some years to come.

Over 18,000 deaths worldwide

According to WHO, since the outbreak began, over 214 countries and overseas territories or communities have reported laboratory confirmed cases of the pandemic influenza H1N1 2009 (informally known as "swine flu), including over 18,449 deaths.

Influenza transmission continues to be active in parts of South Asia and limited areas of tropical South and Central America. In the temperate zone of the southern hemisphere, seasonal and pandemic influenza activity is low, except for in South Africa, where peak wintertime influenza transmission due to circulating seasonal influenza viruses (H3N2 and type B) might have recently occurred. Seasonal influenza viruses, particularly H3N2 viruses, continue to circulate in parts of Central America, East Africa, and Southeast Asia, WHO reports.

WHO Swine Flu (Video Medical And Professional 2020).

Section Issues On Medicine: Disease