Last week, the two companies involved in the production of Tamiflu — touted as the globe’s savior should there be an avian flu pandemic — negotiated a new financial arrangement. Roche will now pay Gilead 14-22% of Tamiflu revenue, up from last year’s 10%. The drug was a “lackluster” seller before pandemic fears, which reached new heights earlier this month when President Bush outlined a $7.1 billion pandemic response plan.
American mainstream media continue to ignore the White House connection (some call it crony capitalism) to its flu plan ($1 billion is specifically earmarked for Tamiflu). Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld owns Gilead stock valued at $5-25 million. US Liberals Deborah White reported this connection on 1 November. And yet.
A Google news search of “Rumsfeld and Tamiflu” yields only 84 stories; a large percentage of these are foreign press. Not surprisingly, Google’s BlogSearch has 627 hits; Technorati, 507 in the last five days.
When Rumsfeld left the board of Gilead, shares were trading at about $7. Since last year, the stock has increased more than 57% (the Pentagon bought $58 million worth for soldiers this summer). In November, the share price has jumped about 20%. Last year, sales of Tamiflu were about $258 million, according to Roche, which manufactures the drug under a royalty agreement with Gilead. Roche estimates 2005 sales at $1 billion.
Tamiflu is an antiviral; it can lessen flu symptoms and also may prevent the flu. However, dangerous possible side-effects are being reported. Flu vaccines are incubated in chicken eggs; thus those with egg allergies should not take a flu shot. Global Research in Canada has also explored the economic impact on agribusiness, providing a close examination of poultry production practices by its neighbor to the south.
Media and blogs following this story include:
Bear Creek Research,
Cleveland Indy Media,
Gates of Horn,
Health Philosophy Politics And Other Rants,
Leaves of Grass,
Working for Change
This article first appeared at uspolitics.about.comPowered by Sidelines