Pharmaceutical lobbying and pandemic stockpiling of Tamiflu: a qualitative study of arguments and tactics

J Public Health (Oxf). 2018 Sep 1;40(3):646-651. doi: 10.1093/pubmed/fdx101.


Background: Little is known about how pharmaceutical companies lobby authorities or experts regarding procurement or the use of vaccines and antivirals. This paper investigates how members of Denmark's pandemic planning committee experienced lobbying efforts by Roche, manufacturer of Tamiflu, the antiviral that was stockpiled before the 2009 A(H1N1) pandemic.

Methods: Analysis of interviews with six of seven members of the Danish core pandemic committee, supplemented with documentary analysis. We sought to identify (1) arguments and (2) tactics used in lobbying, and to characterize interviewees' views on the impact of (3) lobbying and (4) scientific evidence on the decision to stockpile Tamiflu.

Results: Roche lobbied directly (in its own name) and through a seemingly independent third party. Roche used two arguments: (1) the procurement agreement had to be signed quickly because the drug would be delivered on a first-come, first-served basis and (2) Denmark was especially vulnerable to an influenza crisis because it had smaller Tamiflu stocks than other countries. Most interviewees suspected that lobbying had an impact on Tamiflu procurement.

Conclusions: Our study highlights risks posed by pharmaceutical lobbying. Arguments and tactics deployed by Roche are likely to be repeated whenever many countries are negotiating drug procurements in a monopolistic market.

MeSH terms

  • Antiviral Agents / supply & distribution*
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use
  • Denmark
  • Drug Industry* / methods
  • Drug Industry* / organization & administration
  • Humans
  • Influenza, Human / drug therapy*
  • Influenza, Human / epidemiology
  • Influenza, Human / prevention & control
  • Lobbying*
  • Oseltamivir / supply & distribution*
  • Oseltamivir / therapeutic use
  • Pandemics / prevention & control*
  • Strategic Stockpile* / methods
  • Strategic Stockpile* / organization & administration


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Oseltamivir