E-drug: HAI comments on draft WHO Guidelines on
Interaction with Commercial Enterprises
HAI has written to WHO with its comments on the draft Guidelines on
Interaction with Commercial Enterprises. NGOs were invited to
comment on this draft before the end of last year. In the comments
we have pointed out that the main flaw of the draft guidelines is that
they do not give sufficient guidance for a serious evaluation of the
activities of potential and current commercial partners and therefore
do not substantially reduce the problem of conflicts of interest.
We see an inherent conflict between commercial goals and public
health goals. WHO is the primary public health body in the world and
it must ensure that public health interests are paramount. WHO can
only do this by performing its functions independently from
commercial influence. Industry partnerships and industry sponsorship
without strong, enforceable, accountable and transparent guidelines
for these relationships will undermine and destroy that role and
While we understand the commitment WHO is trying to make by
publishing guidelines to structure its interaction with commercial
enterprises, we believe that there are fundamental questions that need
to be answered first. The most important question is whether
increased interaction with the commercial sector is a major way
forward towards Health For All. WHO must be able to demonstrate
that the poor directly benefit from this collaboration. Private sector
initiatives rarely benefit the poor as much as they benefit specific
diseases or health problems encountered by a section of the
population, or of course, an industry itself.
To view the full text of HAI's letter (and an annex including detailed
comments on the guidelines' wording) please visit our website at:
>From that page you can also link to an updated overview of other
Bas van der Heide
Jacob van Lennepkade 334-T
1053 NJ Amsterdam, The Netherlands
tel ++31.20.6833684 / fax ++31.20.6855002
Send mail for the `E-Drug' conference to `email@example.com'.
Mail administrative requests to `firstname.lastname@example.org'.
For additional assistance, send mail to: `email@example.com'.