When Klaus Stöhr left the World Health Organization to take a job at the Swiss drug giant Novartis in February, there were some who questioned whether the most prominent figure in the global fight against avian influenza had forsaken public health for profit margins. "I don't see why this should be good news," wrote one blogger with the moniker "gsgs" on a site devoted to pandemic flu soon after the news broke. "It's a signal that he considers the [pandemic flu] threat as less important than Novartis research."

Sitting in August at a hotel restaurant at Frankfurt, where he's in the middle of two days of strategy sessions with 40 colleagues in the influenza business at Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics, Stöhr says he'd anticipated that kind of criticism, but that it stems from a misunderstanding. "Honestly, it's human that people think that, [but] they do not know what industry...

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