[Ip-health] Herrling nomination to WHO CEWG on R&D is approved by the Executive Board

Jamie Love jamespackardlove at gmail.com
Fri Jan 21 07:44:19 PST 2011

The wireless network is down at the WHO, so this is late.  This
morning the WHO Executive Board reopened the discussions about the
Consultative Expert Group on R&D Financing, and agreed to all 21 names
proposed by the Secretariat.  If the event today seemed scripted, it
was because the Secretariat negotiated with member states through last
evening.  The basic deal was that if Herrling was not accepted, the
Euro members and the US would block the most effective expert(s)
supported by developing countries.  The Euro and US members purposely
confused and conflated a complaint about an obvious conflict of
interest with a fight to get a strong pro pharma voice on the CEWG.
They could have easily found a strong pro-industry voice for the CEWG
that was not asking for funding from the CEWG, but they insisted on
not only having a strong industry advocate, but also on demonstrating
the WHO rules on conflict of interest mean nothing when it comes to
industry particpation on panels.

The result was a damaging precedent for the WHO, which increasingly is
being careless about its willingness to comprise ethical standards
when it comes to influence by the pharmaceutical industry.  In this
case, the influence was super direct.  Herrling is not only a top
executive for Novartis, one of the handful of giant  firms that
dominate pharma markets, but he is the author and co-author
respectively of the FRIND and PDP Plus proposals.

According to the WHO EB debate, the members of the CEWG will be asked
to make disclosures of conflicts, and then they have to decide whether
disclosure is a sufficient remedy, or whether it is necessary to limit
or exclude particpation in certain aspects of their work.

The PDP Plus proposal, in its earlier versions, was a combination of
IFPMA-Novartis-FRIND, the Mary Moran 80% subsidy for contracts with
the private pharma companies, and the IAVI proposal to have
governments guarentee bonds that would be paid back only when R&D
efforts are successful.  In all three cases, details of transparency,
governance, ownership of IPR (including outside of narrowly defined
fields of use), and conflicts of interest are important.  Of course,
having Herrling appointed to the CEWG raises the question of how the
FRIND would deal with conflicts of interest, when managing up to ten
billion in R&D funding.

My earlier blog on this topic is here: http://www.keionline.org/node/1064

James Love.   US Mobile is +1.202.361.3040.  Geneva Mobile is +41.76.413.6584

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