Friday, October 30, 2009

ESWI advising German government backed by 10 pharmaceutical companies

Epidemiologist Luc Bonneaux says ESWI is a lobby group "that has as much to do with science as McDonald's with healthy nutrition."

Can we say conflict of interest?

One revealing case is that of an organization called the European Scientific Working Group on Influenza (ESWI), operating under Belgian law with the goal of raising public awareness of the dangers of an influenza pandemic.

The group says it brings together scientific "key opinion leaders in influenza." The sole financial backers are 10 pharmaceutical companies, including GlaxoSmithKline -- manufacturer of the German swine flu vaccine -- and Roche -- producer of the antiviral drug Tamiflu.

The group also enlisted Walter Haas as one of its scientific advisors. Haas coordinates Germany's flu pandemic preparedness measures at the Robert-Koch-Institut (RKI), the federal institute for disease research.

ESWI portrays itself as an independent group of scientists. But even the organization's own statute tells a different story, describing its role as advising politicians and health authorities on "the benefits and safety of influenza vaccines and antivirals" and initiating "a policy for antiviral provisions."

Yup, it is a lobby for pharmaceutical corporations!


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