[Ip-health] BMJ: Covid-19, trust, and Wellcome: how charity’s pharma investments overlap with its research efforts

Kavian Kulasabanathan kavian at keionline.org
Thu Mar 4 07:33:47 PST 2021

Very interesting and alarming piece in the BMJ regarding conflicts of
interest between the Wellcome Trust and private actors - both within the
pharmaceutical industry and beyond.


*Covid-19, trust, and Wellcome: how charity’s pharma investments overlap
with its research efforts*
by Tim Schwab

"At the same time, The BMJ finds, Wellcome itself holds investments in
companies producing these same treatments. Financial disclosures from late
2020 show that Wellcome has a £275m (€318m; $389m) stake in Novartis, which
manufactures dexamethasone and is investigating additional therapeutics.
And Roche, in which Wellcome holds a £252m stake,2 is helping to
manufacture monoclonal antibodies with Regeneron. Both Roche and Novartis
report having had conversations with WHO’s ACT Accelerator about their
therapeutic drugs.3

Wellcome’s financial interests have been published on the trust’s website
and through financial regulatory filings but do not seem to have been
disclosed as financial conflicts of interest in the context of Wellcome’s
work on covid-19, even as they show that the trust is positioned to
potentially gain from the pandemic financially.

Revelations of the Wellcome Trust’s financial conflicts of interest follow
news reports that another charity, the Gates Foundation, is also positioned
to potentially benefit financially from its leading role in the pandemic
response. An investigation by the Nation revealed that Gates had more than
$250m (£179m; €206m) invested in companies working on covid-19 and cited
civil society groups expressing alarm with the outsize influence the
billionaire charity wields in the pandemic response, which they see as
elevating the role of the drug industry.4"

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