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Sunday August 9th, 2009
To most of us right now the outlook is pretty bleak. Not only are we in the midst of the worst recession in decades we are apparently facing up to 65000 deaths in the UK caused by the pandemic, swine flu. But spare a thought for our friends in the pharmaceutical business. For them the timing is ideal. Indeed they stand to make literally billions out of the swine flu virus.
Take for instance GlaxoSmithKline, the makers of the swine flu treatment Relenza. They sell each treatment to the NHS for £6. Last year they sold £28mil worth this year so far they have sold £282mil treatments. The Swiss drug manufacturer Roche has sold 400 million doses of the rival treatment Tamiflu in the last six months and has announced a half yearly profit of £2.3 billion.
And it doesnít end there. GSK have a brand new swine flu vaccine ready to go on sale in September and has already had orders for 195 million doses. Thatís before they have entered talks with 50 different governments. In short these guys are all raking it in at the expense of the worried taxpayer.
Liberal Democrat Norman Lamb had this to say about the situation, 'This is clearly a bonanza for the company [GSK]Ö They have done the work so should legitimately benefit, but this is a staggeringly substantial return.' He has since pledged to get the National Audit Office to look into the price the British taxpayer was being charged for the drug.
All in all it is a difficult situation to judge. If swine flu does kick off big time then we will all be grateful that there is a vaccine ready and waiting to be used. If government predictions prove unfounded thereís going to be an almighty stink and we wonít be blaming it on any pigs, thatís for sure.
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