[Ip-health] Bloomberg: Businesses From PepsiCo to Pfizer Have a Stake in Who Leads WHO

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Thu May 18 01:19:36 PDT 2017


Businesses From PepsiCo to Pfizer Have a Stake in Who Leads WHO

Albertina Torsoli
May 18, 2017, 12:01 AM GMT+2

UN health agency shapes policy on pandemics to pharmaceuticals
New director-general to be elected at May 23 meeting in Geneva

The World Health Organization’s 194 member-states will vote for a new
director-general next week, choosing a doctor to lead the planet’s top
technical agency on all matters health.

With a $4 billion annual budget, WHO’s influence extends to virtually all
of humanity, from food quality and environmental hazards to immunizations
and the response to pandemics. One of three candidates will be elected at
the Palais des Nations in Geneva on May 23 for a five-year term to provide
the leadership, muster the resources, and implement the strategies that are
central to global health, security, and development.

Nominees to succeed current Director-General Margaret Chan on July 1 are
David Nabarro (U.K.); Sania Nishtar (Pakistan); and Tedros Adhanom
Ghebreyesus (Ethiopia).

Whoever wins the top spot will also need to drum up financial support for
the beleaguered, 69-year-old agency after the Trump Administration flagged
reducing funding to the United Nations, of which the WHO is part.

Here are 10 reasons why the election is of interest to the global business

1. Pandemic Warnings

Health workers dress in protective clothing before taking the body of an
Ebola victim from the Island Clinic Ebola treatment center in Monrovia,
Liberia in October 2014.

Photographer: John Moore/Getty Images

WHO decides when to raise the alarm on pandemics and international health
emergencies, which influence governments’ decisions on everything from
pharmaceutical purchases to travel policies. The response to disease
threats resonates across industries, especially aviation, tourism,
insurance and re-insurance, whose businesses are among the hardest hit
during major disease outbreaks. West Africa’s Ebola epidemic in 2014-15
cost Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone a combined $2.8 billion, the World
Bank estimated.

2. Controlling Tobacco

WHO sets enforceable rules on tobacco control, restricting the way
cigarette makers can advertise, promote, and market their products, making
the agency’s policies especially important to companies such as Philip
Morris International Inc., British American Tobacco Plc, Japan Tobacco Inc.
and Imperial Brands Plc.

3. Healthy Diets

WHO makes dietary and nutrition recommendations aimed at tackling
conditions from obesity and hypertension to stroke and heart attack. Salt
and sugar targets influence the ingredients of foods and beverages,
including those made by Nestle SA, Unilever, General Mills Inc., Kellogg
Co., PepsiCo Inc. and the Coca-Cola Co.

4. Procuring Medicines

WHO formulates a model list of essential medicinesthat recommend the most
important drugs governments should stock for the health of their people.
Pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies can get a sales boost from
having a product added to the list. The list is especially important for
makers of generic medications, such as Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.,
Mylan NV, Novartis AG’s Sandoz unit and Sun Pharmaceuticals Industries Ltd.

WHO is pushing for wider access to ground-breaking new treatments for
hepatitis C, cancer, and multi-drug resistant tuberculosis, and is lobbying
to make the medicines more affordable -- an effort that has ramifications
for drugmakers such as Gilead Sciences Inc., Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.,
Roche Holding AG and AstraZeneca Plc. It also helps other UN agencies
procure billions of dollars of pharmaceutical products by vetting
manufacturersto ensure they meet WHO standards and specifications.

5. Health-Insurance for All

WHO is helping governments achieve universal health coverage by 2030 with
the goal of ensuring even the poorest people have access to safe and
effective essential services and treatment. Already, governments are being
encouraged to have sufficient high-priority equipment on hand, including
endoscopes, imaging and scanning machines, linear accelerators for
radiotherapy, and other devices made by companies from Becton, Dickinson &
Co. and Medtronic Plc, to Olympus Corp. and Siemens AG.

6. Breast Is Best

WHO sets standards for the marketing of breast-milk substitutes that
restrict some promotional practices of infant-formula makers, which include
Nestle SA, Danoneand Mead Johnson Nutrition Co., which is being acquired by
Reckitt Benckiser Group Plc.

7. Calling the Shots

WHO scrutinizes the safety and efficacy of vaccines, and makes
recommendations on which ones should be routinely administered to children,
which ones should be stockpiled, and which ones should be developed for
future use. Immunization recommendations are important for vaccine makers,
including Merck & Co., Sanofi, GlaxoSmithKline Plc, Pfizer Inc. and the
Serum Institute of India Pvt.

8. Saving Antibiotics

Broiler chicks drink water at a poultry farm in Telangana, India.

WHO is trying to stave off resistance to antimicrobial medicines, including
broad-spectrum antibiotics that are losing their potency because of
overuse. The agency is also encouraging the development of new
infection-fighting medicines. Working with veterinary, food and agriculture
organizations, WHO is pushing for restrictions on the use of critically
important antibiotics in food and livestock production that have relevance
for food retailers, such as McDonald’s Corp. and Yum! Brands Inc., as well
as Merck & Co., Bayer AG, Zoetis Inc. and other companies with
animal-health interests.

9. Battling the Bottle

WHO is tackling the harmful use of alcohol, helping governments implement
policies that curb excessive boozing and communicate its public health
risks -- a program with implications for beverage companies such as Diageo
Plc, Pernod Ricard SA, Anheuser-Busch InBev NV and Carlsberg A/S in Europe
to Suntory Holdings Ltd. and Asahi Group Holdings Ltd.

10. Labeling Carcinogens

WHO reviews scientific evidence to appraise the cancer-risk of everything
from agricultural chemicals, such as Monsanto Co.’s Roundup, and 2,4-D made
by companies including Dow Chemical Co. and Nufarm Ltd., to drinking
scalding-hot beverages, and eating red meat.

“There is enormous interest in the business community about global health
security,” said Lawrence Gostin, the Founding O’Neill Chair in Global
Health Law at Washington’s Georgetown University. “Because of disruption in
markets and consumer behavior, the potential for restrictions on travel,
trade and tourism can make a huge difference.”

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