Fox News, Jan 22, 2010. By George Russell
A member of a World Health Organization (WHO) panel of experts that is pondering new global taxes on e-mails, alcohol, tobacco, airline travel and consumer bank transactions, has charged that she was given only selective information at group meetings, that deliberations were rushed and that group was “manipulated” by the international pharmaceuticals industry.
All of her charges were strongly denied by the head of WHO’s Expert Working Group on Research and Development Financing (EWG), a 25-member panel of medical experts, academics and health care bureaucrats which is due to present a 98-page report in Geneva on Monday, after 14 months of deliberations on “new and innovative sources of funding” to reshape the global medical industry.
A copy of the executive summary of the report was obtained by Fox News on January 15 — the same day, as it happens, that the EWG’s dissident member first aired her charges in a letter to members of WHO’s 34-member supervisory Executive Board.
The executive summary first revealed the possibility of a multibillion-dollar “indirect consumer tax” as one means of financing an epic shift of drug-making research, development and manufacturing capabilities to the developing world that is the central aim of WHO’s fund-raising strategy.
Fox News has obtained a copy of the full EWG report, Research and Development: Coordination and Financing, in advance of its publication Monday, which lays out in greater detail the working group’s proposals for fund-raising. These include not only indirect consumer taxes but also greater donations by wealthy governments as a percentage of gross domestic product, voluntary individual payments tied to such things as individual mobile phone use, health care lotteries, new commitments from charitable and philanthropic organizations, and the possible diversion of current philanthropic giving from developed-world causes into developing world health care.
The report lays out, and generally endorses, a number of public-private partnerships in the developing world with some of the world’s biggest pharmaceutical firms. But it also raises the idea of a tax on pharma-profits from low-income countries that could raise as much as $160 million a year.
The report labels that tax idea a “particularly attractive” option for funding health research and development, and says that revenues from it would “rise considerably if the profits from one or more high income countries was included.”
One dissident member of the working group, Cecilia Lopez Montano — a federal senator of Colombia and former national environmental minister — insisted that working sessions of the group she attended were truncated, that her suggestions of looking critically at intellectual patent rights held by Big Pharma companies were ignored, and that neither she nor “the majority of the members of the group” actually participated in the findings “in a full manner.”
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