Government virus expert paid £116k by Tamiflu vaccine makers

July 27th, 2009

Mail Online.

A scientist who advises the Government on swine flu is a paid director of a drugs firm making hundreds of millions of pounds from the pandemic.

Professor Sir Roy Anderson sits on the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), a 20-strong task force drawing up the action plan for the virus.

Yet he also holds a £116,000-a-year post on the board of GlaxoSmithKline, the company selling swine flu vaccines and anti-virals to the NHS.

Sir Roy faced demands to step down yesterday amid claims that the jobs were incompatible. ‘This is a clear conflict of interest and should be of great concern to taxpayers and government officials alike,’ said Matthew Elliott of the TaxPayers’ Alliance.

‘You cannot have the man in charge of medical emergencies having any financial interest in the management of those emergencies. We need someone totally unbiased to tackle this crisis.’

The Department of Health and GSK denied there was a conflict and said Sir Roy did not attend Sage meetings where vaccines and drugs were discussed.

Sir Roy was appointed to Sage to ‘provide cross-government scientific advice regarding the outbreak of swine flu’. He was one of the first UK experts to call the outbreak a pandemic.

During an interview for Radio Four’s Today programme on May 1, he praised the anti-flu drugs and called for their distribution. Listeners were not told he was paid by GSK.

The West London-based drugs giant has had to defend itself from allegations of profiteering from swine flu after posting profits of £2.1billion in the last three months.

Sales of the company’s Relenza inhaler, an alternative to Tamiflu used by pregnant women among others, are expected to top £600million. This figure could be boosted by up to £2billion once deliveries of the firm’s swine-flu vaccine begin in September.

Sir Roy, 61, who was unavailable for comment yesterday, earned £116,000 at GSK last year, at least a quarter of which he received in shares.


Government virus expert paid £116k by swine flu vaccine manufacturers | Mail Online

Government virus expert paid £116k by Tamiflu vaccine makers |