It can be a long and expensive journey taking an average of 12 years and over $350 million to get a new drug from the pharmaceutical research lab to your medicine cabinet. (To learn more about this epic journey, read How A New Drug Gets Approved.) But sometimes, even after winning regulatory approval, the drug turns out to be a complete loser in the marketplace.
The British Medical Journal dropped a bombshell this month when its features editor Deborah Cohen teamed up with journalist Philip Carter of The Bureau of Investigative Journalism. Together, they found out that the key scientists advising the World Health Organization on planning for the H1N1 influenza pandemic had done paid work for the very pharmaceutical firms that stood to gain from their advice.
Almost exactly one year ago on June 9, 2009, Dr. Margaret Chan, the director general of the World Health Organization, announced to the world’s media:
“I have sought guidance and advice from an Emergency Committee established for this purpose. On the basis of these expert assessments of the evidence, the scientific criteria for an influenza pandemic have been met. The world is now at the start of the 2009 influenza pandemic.”
Well, who knew that Chan’s “expert assessments” provided by her committee members were tainted? The WHO guidelines were pepared in collaboration with a group called the European Scientific Working Group on Influenza (ESWI).” But what this committee did not disclose is that ESWI is funded entirely by the drug company Roche and other influenza drug and flu vaccine manufacturers. Continue reading