PACE is to open hearings on Monday on pharmaceutical companies' possible influence on the global swine flu campaign and on the World Health Organization, a Russian daily reported.
The 47-nation Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe is conducting an inquiry into an alleged conspiracy between the WHO, the pharmaceutical industry and scientists which could "expose millions of healthy people to the risk of side-effects of insufficiently tested vaccines," caused damage to public budgets and to health agencies' credibility, according to a PACE resolution.
The motion was introduced by Dr. Wolfgang Wodarg, head of the health committee, former German lawmaker and a specialist in lung disease, who called the current pandemic "one of the greatest medical scandals of the century."
WHO declared the pandemic in June 2009 on the advice of a group of experts many of whom are believed to have financial ties with pharmaceutical giants like GlaxoSmithKline, Roche, Novartis, and benefited from the production of drugs and H1N1 vaccines. PACE will also look into the global campaign against bird flu.
The Russian business daily Kommersant said representatives of the companies have been summoned to the French Senate over the case scheduled on January 20.
Russia's lower house of parliament, the State Duma, said Russia should withdraw from the global health body if the corruption suspicions are proven, the paper said.
The paper cited JP Morgan which said pharmaceutical companies have earned around $7.5-$10 billion on H1N1 vaccines.
WHO General Director Dr. Margaret Chan told Kommersant there are no reasons to say there was no pandemic. She said the number of confirmed swine flu cases exceeds 13,000 in 205 countries across the globe.
Dr. Chan told the paper the WHO will launch its own inquiry into measures to curb the pandemic, but denied the organization's officials were linked to vaccine production.
The WHO said in December the death toll from swine flu outbreak was 11,516.
MOSCOW, January 18 (RIA Novosti)