Swiss Pharma Won't Donate Swine Flu Vaccine to Poor
Novartis defies WHO calls to give free doses to poor
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 15, 2009 4:58 AM CDT
WHO Director-General Margaret Chan speaks during a press conference Geneva, Switzerland. Chan called on drug makers to show "solidarity" with the world's poor, but Novartis is resisting.   (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)
camera-icon View 4 more images

(Newser) – Swiss pharma giant Novartis is defying the World Health Organization by refusing to donate swine flu vaccines to the world's poor, despite the designation of H1N1 as the first pandemic in 40 years, reports the Financial Times. Last week the WHO's director general called on drug companies to show "solidarity" with low-income victims, but Novartis is telling the poor to pay up.

GlaxoSmithKline has pledged 50 million doses of its flu vaccine to the global poor, and several other drug makers have also followed the WHO's call. The US and other rich countries have already reserved major shipments of the drug, raising the prospect of further shortages in the developing world. While Novartis’ CEO said he might consider discounts, he insisted: "If you want to make production sustainable, you have to create financial incentives."