Monday, September 7, 2009

H1N1 Potentially Profitable

After studying virology for the last week and hearing from genuinely concerned people in eradication efforts, this Wall Street Journal article reminds me that there are people who may hope pandemics are widespread and dangerous. With the current H1N1 scare, it's interesting to see that some people may benefit economically, namely the makers and distributors of Tamiflu, Roche laboratories and drug chains. Analysts have estimated that a corporation like CVS stands to earn 4 to 8 cents more per share (some say more than 10 cents). Walgreens stands to gain 17 cents per share, but it depends on the severity of this second H1N1 wave.

With frightening statistics like 60 to 120 million expected to have symptomatic H1N1 and 30,000 to 90,000 deaths caused by it, it is no wonder that Tamiflu sales have increased, especially as school comes back in session. Drug stores are planning to partner with the state and federal government to create vaccination programs. The article also mentions possible economic boom from sales of hand sanitizer and other hygienic or preventative products.

This is an entirely different facet of disease than we have previously discussed in class or even read in the books. Leave it to the Wall Street Journal to write an article about disease and economic gain.

In relation to smallpox, does anyone know if Wyeth Pharmaceuticals made much profit from freeze-dried smallpox vaccine Dryvax, or if Dr. Benjamin Rubin lived an extravagant lifestyle off of the bifurcated needle? (I somehow doubt the latter.) I think it's interesting to consider.

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