On May 6th 2010, the Bureau and BMJ revealed that key scientists advising the WHO for guidelines on pandemic influenza had major financial links to pharmaceutical companies.
These links were not disclosed by the WHO, leading to potential conflicts of interest in its decision-making processes. The same day, the WHO faced strong criticism from the Council of Europe for a severe “lack of transparency.”
Following this, Harvey Fineberg, President of the Institute of Medicine of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, and chair of the WHO’s internal review committee of the management of the H1N1 Pandemic, released the following statement:
“Our review committee welcomes the opportunity to learn from reports published today by the British Medical Journal and released by the Social, Health and Family Affairs Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).
“These reports raise questions about potential, inappropriate influences on WHO decision-making in the assessment and response to the 2009 H1N1 pandemic and, more generally, question practices employed by WHO to guard against conflict of interest among its expert advisers. These topics are among those that will be fully considered by our review committee.
“At our upcoming meeting in Geneva (30 June – 2 July 2010) we anticipate hearing from critics of WHO as well as from those who were involved from the public and private sectors, at national and international levels, and in policy and decision-making related to the H1N1 pandemic.”
The Bureau in the news
The revelations of the Bureau and BMJ have been picked up in over 800 news outlets worldwide.
Coverage includes Al Jazeera; The Washington Post; Daily Mail; Financial Times; BBC News and BBC World Service; The Guardian; The Herald; ABC America; Swiss National Radio; South Africa National Radio; Irish National Radio; BBC Spanish Service; RTE (Swiss) TV; BBC Radio Belfast; CBC and Reuters.