WHO's Money?

The British Medical Journal reports that the director of the World Health Organization's (WHO's) department of mental health and substance abuse, Benedetto Saraceno, proposed in an e-mail that the European Parkinson's Disease Association accept a $10,000 grant from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and pass it on to the UN agency. WHO has a policy that it doesn't accept contributions from drug companies. The funding was earmarked for a report on neurological diseases, including Parkinson's disease, which GSK produces drugs to treat. "GSK withdrew its offer of funding when it learnt that acceptance was conditional on obscuring its origin. However, the email exchange indicates that other sums of money originating from drug companies may have already been channelled to WHO through patient groups," Michael Day reports. In response to Day's inquiries, Saraceno described his original email as "very unfortunate." A WHO spokesperson said, "It's astonishing that the BMJ thinks there's a story here."