Welcome! We regret to inform you that the Injury Board National News Desk has been discontinued. Feel free to browse around and enjoy our previously published articles, or visit The Injury Blog Network for the latest in personal injury news.

Did Big Pharma Influence WHO Over Swine Flu?

Posted by Jane Akre
Tuesday, January 26, 2010 9:38 AM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: Swine Flu, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, H1N1, Influenza, Public Health, Guillain-Barre Syndrome, National Vaccine Information Center

CVS and Walgreens are pushing for swine flu shots even though critics say the pandemic has been hyped.


IMAGE SOURCE: CVS Minute Clinic from Web site

Drug Makers Made Billions

The World Health Organization (WHO) is denying that it was pressured by pharmaceutical giants to exaggerate the dangers of the H1N1 virus. Drug makers picked up multi-million dollar contracts to produce a flu shot to slow the pandemic declared last June.

Thousands have died worldwide and millions have contracted H1N1, but it ultimately proved milder than expected, reports the CDC.

Reuters reports that critics and politicians have accused the WHO of relying too heavily on advice from experts paid for by the pharmaceutical industry, which had a vested interest in exaggerating the crisis.

GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis, MedImmune, Baxter, and Sanofi-Aventis are among the producers of the swine flu vaccine, who signed multi-million dollars contracts for their production.

The U.S. prepared to launch a swine flu inoculation campaign after predictions that 1.8 million Americans could be hospitalized with about half dying, under a worst-case scenario reports the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST).  Health experts agree that predicting the virulence of any virus is a guessing game.

The total cost to the U.S. government for the vaccines is more than $1 billion for about 195 million H1N1 vaccine doses made by the five companies.

Hyped Pandemic?

British and French media have said the pandemic was “hyped” by health experts and question, “What Pandemic?”

An internal review has been launched by the WHO and an inquiry by the Council of Europe, which is a human rights watchdog. WHO’s top flu expert denied to the council that its decision had been pushed by the drug giants.

"Let me state clearly for the record. The influenza pandemic policies and responses recommended and taken by WHO were not improperly influenced by the pharmaceutical industry," said Keiji Fukuda to the Strasbourg-based body.

The WHO will also review how it classifies a ‘pandemic” currently classified as an infectious disease that spreads to many countries, continents or worldwide.

Dumping the Doses

As it stands now, many countries that ordered tens of millions of the H1N1 doses are now trying to stop the orders or sell off their unused surplus. Countries in the southern hemispheme have yet to reach the peak swine flu season. The UK is considering breaking its contract with Baxter, one of two pharmaceutical companies that make the vaccines for Britain.

In the U.S., CVS and Walgreens and walk-in clinics are running TV ads to encourage people to get the H1N1 flu shot.

The seasonal flu season lasts from November through April each year. #

1 Comment

Anonymous User
Posted by Philip
Tuesday, January 26, 2010 1:51 PM EST

There have been no double blind placebo controlled trials of vaccination in influenza (it is approved based off the surrogate marker of antibody response to the injection – but no evidence that it does in fact prevent disease). Conversely there are at least three population studies, two in the US and one in Italy that found that influenza death and hospitalization rates either did not decline or in fact increased after mass vaccination was instituted. So to sum it up, in the medical literature there is no evidence that flu vaccination prevents disease the only evidence available says it does not. And this is seasonal influenza we are talking here not the recent swine flu about which less is known.

Interestingly, the recommendation to vaccinate children for flu was made only as recently as 2007 or 2008 as I recall, they were never vaccinated because healthy children almost never die of flu. This change in vaccine recommendations came quickly on the heals of former president Bush’s veto of a bill which would have outlawed thimerosal from all pediatric vaccines.

Save yourself the needle prick and take some vitamin D – which by the way does have evidence in the medical literature supporting that it prevents influenza.


Comments for this article are closed.

About the National News Desk

Our mission is to seek the complete truth and provide a full and fair account of the events and issues that surround personal safety, accident prevention, and injury recovery.  We are committed to serving the public with honesty and integrity in these efforts.

Hurt in an accident? Contact an Injury Board member

Subscribe to Blog Updates

Enter your email address if you would like to receive email notifications when comments are made on this post.

Email address


RSS Feed

Add the National News Desk to your favorite RSS reader

Add to Google Reader Add to myYahoo Add to myMSN Add to Bloglines Add to Newsgator Add to Netvibes Add to Pageflakes