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The who does what

MagazineApril 2009 (Vol. 20 Issue 1)The who does what

The World Health Organization (WHO) has been reported to be accepting illicit payments from drug companies

The World Health Organization (WHO) has been reported to be accepting illicit payments from drug companies. It has been doing this by using patients' groups through which it channels the money, as direct payments from drug companies are contrary to its guidelines.

The WHO was prepared to accept a $10,000 'donation' from drug giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), provided that the money was sent via a patientsgroup for Parkinson's sufferers.

E-mails between the WHO's mental-health department and the European Parkinson's Disease Association (EPDA) in June last year suggest that the practice is fairly common. The WHO had asked for the money to help funda report on neurological diseases, including Parkinson's disease, for whichGSK produces drug treatments.

The WHO claims that the e-mails were misinterpreted, and that the language used in them was merely 'clumsy' (BMJ, 2007; 334: 338-40).

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