Professor Terry Nolan and Peter Richmond, members of the Health Department’s Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation and currently advising the government on the recent seasonal flu vaccine controversy, have declared they are also members of CSL’s vaccine advisory board for which they receive payment. CSL is the manufacturer of Fluvax Junior, which was removed from shelves in April after adverse events of up to nine times the average were reported in WA.
Public distrust of scientific experts and the development conspiracy theories suggesting collusion between science, government and industry are fuelled in instances such as these. Nolan and Richardson were at pains to point out however that no payment had been received with regards to this advisory role and that it was in the public interest to have scientific experts in such a role. Professor Doherty also expressed the need for such scientists to be involved in the advisory process and that due to the limited number of experts in specific fields, such as immunisation, it was impossible to find individuals that were completely independent of government or industry.