Monday, March 13, 2006



From the Your New Reality blog :

The UK's Independent newspaper has uncovered documents that prove US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has made more than $US5 million from selling his shares in the bio-tech company that originally developed the Tamiflu drug, once considered a massive failure in the pharmacuetical marketplace.

Now manufacturers can't keep up with the orders still pouring in from all over the world.

When the United Nations started tossing out estimates of a global death toll reaching 150 million people from a bird flu pandemic last year, interest in Tamiflu shot through the roof, with the Health Minister eventually spending more than an estimated $140 million on anti-virals alone, including Tamiflu.

Around the world, more than 60 countries have brought up big on anti-virals. The grand total spent so far on drugs like Tamiflu is unknown, though it is already well beyond $US5 billion.

So how did Rumsfeld come to get so much cream from the global terror the threat of a bird flu pandemic has unleashed?

Tamiflu was developed through the early 1990s by Californian biotech company Gilead Sciences.

Rumsfeld served on the board of Gilead from 1988 to 2001, and became chairman in 1997. When he joined the Bush Administration as Defence Secretary, in 2001, Rumsfeld quit the board but retained a massive shareholding in the company.

The year before the bird flu fear campaign started, in 2003, Gilead Sciences posted a loss. All that changed over the course of the next twelve months.

The threat of a bird flu pandemic became an all-consuming world media focus, despite the virus only having clocked up a handful of human cases while viruses like AIDS was steadily killing, and infecting, millions.

In 2004, Tamiflu revenues shot up to more almost $US45 million, four times the value of the previous year when few were concerned about a bird flu pandemic.

In 2005, Tamiflu sales quadrupled again, clocking up more than $US160 million in revenue, with the share price storming up by more than 300%

Rumsfeld waited until 2004 before selling a chunk of shares, drawing capital gains of more than $5 million.

And that was in 2004, before the sales of Tamiflu rose by 400%.

According to The Independent, the financial disclosure report Rumsfeld is obliged by law to file every year showed he still retained some $US25 million worth of shares, at the end of 2004.

As the share price has since soared mightily, the value of those shares are expected to have risen dramatically. By just how much won't be revealed until Rumsfeld files another financial disclosure report in May this year.

Go here for the full story from the UK's 'The Independent' newspaper.

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