Swine flu: How profitable at such an opportune time…


Maybe Tamiflu should be called RummyFlu?

How profitable? Very, according to YVKE Mundial and Telesur:

The transnational drug companies Roche and GlaxoSmithKline are the only two laboratories that produce oseltamivir and zanamivir, used to treat patients with swine flu. Oseltamivir, produced by Roche under the name Tamiflu, is the same drug used to treat avian flu; zanamivir, sold under the name Relenza, is produced by GlaxoSmithKline.

What is not so well known is that Roche and Glaxo were both close to bankruptcy just before the outbreak. The latest indicators from the Zurich stock exchange show that Roche lost 8.47% of its share value, while Glaxo, in just the first quarter of 2009, lost 1.5%. According to analysts, this is evidence of a steep drop for the companies.

As the number of persons ill with influenza climbs, however, Roche has announced that only 3 million doses of Tamiflu, recommended by the World Health Organization, are available. The Swiss pharmaceutical firm said that it would be prepared to send the WHO that number of doses, which, along with the 2 million it already has, would be enough for 5 million affected people.

The possibility that these two multinationals required a production boost to reduce their losses and increase their profits cannot be ruled out, and at this time, there could not be a more opportune moment for it.

Translation mine.

Just another of the many things that make you go hmmmm…

And here are some more:

The Australian province of Queensland reports “massive demand” for Tamiflu, even though so far, no cases have been reported in Australia. The reason for the panic? New Zealand’s flu count is 11 probable cases, all of them students who recently travelled to Mexico, with another 56 suspected. That was enough for the NZ government to make Tamiflu available over the counter. NZ has 1.2 million doses on hand, going for NZ $75 per course. Cha-ching!

Meanwhile, in the US, major pharmacy chain CVS is also stocking up. Its share price is on the rise, compared to rival Walgreens, which isn’t reporting increased sales and IS reporting a 29% share price drop. Hmmmm.

And looky here! Bloomberg reports that Roche has boosted Tamiflu production and is “in touch” with governments. How very opportune.

But ooooo, spoiler alert #1: India is making a generic version of the drug. Spoiler #2: The Toronto Star reports that Tamiflu is no guarantee that you won’t get sick, that you will have a shorter recovery, or even that the flu won’t kill you. What is it a guarantee of? More profits for its manufacturers, Roche and Gilead. Cha-ching!

Meanwhile, Singapore reports that it has “enough” (one million doses, or a quarter of the population of Singapore) in stock, while Trindad and Tobago, much closer to the disease’s epicentre, don’t have any. Cha-ching!

Nasty story of the day: A Mexican student in New Zealand was refused Tamiflu. Now is that any way to treat a visitor?

But the clincher headline of the day has got to be this one from the UK Telegraph: “Pharmacies cashing in on swine flu fears”. Cha-ching!

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