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  KEI letter to WHO regarding McKinsey, vaccine policy and competing interests
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Date: 15 February 2011



the Co-Chairs of the WHO Open-Ended Working Group of Member States on Pandemic Influenza Preparedness: sharing of influenza viruses and access to vaccines and other benefits (OEWG) 
held a consultation with civil society [1]. The Co-chairs of the OEWG are Ambassador J. Gomez-Camacho, Mexico and Ambassador B. Angell-Hansen, Norway. Representatives of the Berne Declaration, Consumers 
Association of Penang, Knowledge Ecology International, People`s Health Movement and Third World Network participated in this consultation with a few WHO member states including Bangladesh, Brazil, France, Germany and the United States in attendance.

KEI posed the following questions:
"The Preliminary findings for the technical studies [2] under resolution WHA63.1 notes that due to the significant breadth of the areas under study, and the limited human and financial resources of the Organization to carry out the full studies, the Secretariat sought external support and further notes that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation agreed to provide support through a contract with McKinsey & Company, which was selected on the basis of its broad expertise in public health, financing, health economics, and influenza vaccines; its ability to start working on the project quickly; and its global team. In terms of McKinsey`s selection for undertaking these technical studies, what was the process employed by the WHO and the Open-Ended Working Group of Member States on Pandemic Influenza Preparedness: sharing of influenza viruses and access to vaccines and other benefits  (OEWG) in selecting McKinsey Did WHO use a competitive bidding process? Did WHO require McKinsey to declare any conflicts of interest? In terms of a retainer, how much did McKinsey receive for its work in producing the Preliminary findings for the technical 
studies under resolution WHA63.1? Considering that McKinsey, a leading management consulting firm, operates on a non-exclusive basis, did its selection comply with WHO`s conflict of interest policy?"

The Office of the WHO Legal Counsel responded by noting the exigent  circumstances that required WHO seeking external help in preparing the preliminary technical studies under resolution WHA63.1. In terms of 
disclosure, WHO stated that the Organization did not require declarations of interest from entities, but noted that a transparent process was followed in notifying WHO member states that the Gates Foundation "agreed to provide support through a contract with McKinsey & Company" regarding the technical studies. As entities are not required to disclose competing interests, WHO did not answer KEI`s question regarding competing interests McKinsey may have regarding  vaccines policy nor did WHO answer about the remuneration McKinsey received for it work in preparing the technical studies.

KEI`s interventions were motivated by our interest in having disclosure of McKinsey`s clients in the vaccine business. In the future, WHO and its member states may want deepen consideration of the competing interests of consulting firms hired to advise WHO on vaccine policies especially as they relate to clients that may include vaccine manufacturers, antiviral manufacturers, other vaccine related consulting work for businesses, governments or non-profit entities.

On 16 February 2011, KEI wrote the a letter WHO expressing our concerns regarding the general WHO practices of using consulting firms, and the specific case of using McKinsey & Company as an advisor 
on vaccine policies. Here is the letter reproduced below:

"16 February 2011TO: Dr. Keiji Fukuda, Assistant Director-General, Health Security and Environment, World Health Organization

CC: Ambassador J. Gomez-Camacho (Mexico), Ambassador B. Angell-Hansen (Norway), Steven Solomon,
Principal Legal Officer, World Health Organization.

Dear Dr. Keiji Fukuda,
I am writing to you concerning the general WHO practices of using consulting firms, and the specific case of using McKinsey & Company as an advisor on vaccine policies.

Given McKinsey`s role in advising WHO, we would appreciate information regarding McKinsey?s competing interests as regards to vaccines policies. For example, we would appreciate a disclosure of McKinsey?s 
work for vaccine manufacturers, antiviral manufacturers, other vaccine related consulting work for businesses, governments or non-profit entities.

We also request information about the fee that McKinsey was paid for its recent work on vaccine policy for the WHO in relation to the document entitled Preliminary findings for the technical studies under resolution WHA63.1 ( ... [2]).


Keywords: WHO / McKinsey / Vaccine