GAVI board hit with conflict of interest woes

The board of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations is preparing for its July shakeup. And as GlaxoSmithKline steps down and vaccine maker Crucell takes its place, some organizations have an issue with the incoming board member.

Although GAVI's board always has two industry representatives, larger conglomerates like GlaxoSmithKline (Crucell's board predecessor) have less at stake from the Alliance's decisions. According to the Financial Times, almost 60 percent of Crucell's revenue last year came from GAVI-appropriated contracts. Crucell, a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary, sells Quinvaxem, a pentavalent vaccine that protects against diptheria, pertussis, Hib disease, hepatitis and tetanus, to GAVI. Its current contracts are worth €800 million between 2007 and 2012.

"We think some conflicts are too big to manage," Daniel Berman, deputy director of the access campaign for Médecins sans Frontières, or Doctors Without Borders, told the FT. "If you look at the agenda of the board meetings at GAVI, almost all issues impact Crucell's bottom line."

GAVI told the FT that board members are removed from discussions in which they have a direct conflict, and the news service noted that all board members--including UNICEF, which purchases the vaccines for GAVI contracts--have a conflict. Other members include the World Health Organization and countries that receive support from the vaccines.

"The value of the private sector has been well accepted and well regarded," Jon Pender, vice-president for government affairs at GSK, said to the FT. "If you have not got a potential conflict you probably should not be at the table."

- here's the Financial Times article
- read the Pharmalot post

ALSO: UNICEF has released the prices it pays for vaccines--data that was previously hard to track down. Site