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View Diary: H5N1: A Teachable Moment, And An Open Letter (124 comments)

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  •  Bird Flu (0+ / 0-)

    Rumsfeld's growing stake in Tamiflu
    Defense Secretary, ex-chairman of flu treatment rights holder, sees portfolio value growing.
    October 31, 2005: 10:55 AM EST
    By Nelson D. Schwartz, Fortune senior writer

    NEW YORK (Fortune) - The prospect of a bird flu outbreak may be panicking people around the globe, but it's proving to be very good news for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other politically connected investors in Gilead Sciences, the California biotech company that owns the rights to Tamiflu, the influenza remedy that's now the most-sought after drug in the world.

    Rumsfeld served as Gilead (Research)'s chairman from 1997 until he joined the Bush administration in 2001, and he still holds a Gilead stake valued at between $5 million and $25 million, according to federal financial disclosures filed by Rumsfeld.

    The forms don't reveal the exact number of shares Rumsfeld owns, but in the past six months fears of a pandemic and the ensuing scramble for Tamiflu have sent Gilead's stock from $35 to $47. That's made the Pentagon chief, already one of the wealthiest members of the Bush cabinet, at least $1 million richer.

    Rumsfeld isn't the only political heavyweight benefiting from demand for Tamiflu, which is manufactured and marketed by Swiss pharma giant Roche. (Gilead receives a royalty from Roche equaling about 10% of sales.) Former Secretary of State George Shultz, who is on Gilead's board, has sold more than $7 million worth of Gilead since the beginning of 2005.

    Another board member is the wife of former California Gov. Pete Wilson.

    "I don't know of any biotech company that's so politically well-connected," says analyst Andrew McDonald of Think Equity Partners in San Francisco.

    What's more, the federal government is emerging as one of the world's biggest customers for Tamiflu. In July, the Pentagon ordered $58 million worth of the treatment for U.S. troops around the world, and Congress is considering a multi-billion dollar purchase. Roche expects 2005 sales for Tamiflu to be about $1 billion, compared with $258 million in 2004.

    Rumsfeld recused himself from any decisions involving Gilead when he left Gilead and became Secretary of Defense in early 2001. And late last month, notes a senior Pentagon official, Rumsfeld went even further and had the Pentagon's general counsel issue additional instructions outlining what he could and could not be involved in if there were an avian flu pandemic and the Pentagon had to respond.

    As the flu issue heated up early this year, according to the Pentagon official, Rumsfeld considered unloading his entire Gilead stake and sought the advice of the Department of Justice, the SEC and the federal Office of Government Ethics.

    Those agencies didn't offer an opinion so Rumsfeld consulted a private securities lawyer, who advised him that it was safer to hold on to the stock and be quite public about his recusal rather than sell and run the risk of being accused of trading on insider information, something Rumsfeld doesn't believe he possesses. So he's keeping his shares for the time being.

    •  gee thanks (5+ / 0-)
      I never heard that before.

      "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

      by Greg Dworkin on Thu May 25, 2006 at 05:55:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  gee thanks (0+ / 0-)

        Bird Flu transmitting from human to human is pure bull shit.

        Bird Flu was also hyped up in the 1990s.

        Rumsfeld is hyping up the threat with Bird Flu to sell his very own Tamilflu just as he hyped up the threat of WMDs in Iraq for the military complex.

        You are, knowingly or not, hyping up the threat despite the fact that Bird Flu is not and cannot transmit from human to human

        •  ah - I was wrong to think of you as (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          DaveV, snakelass
          just a #7 when you are, in fact also a #8. Flat earth type, eh?

          Bird Flu transmitting from human to human is pure bull shit.

          I see. So eminent scientists and epidemiologists from all over the world say it is, WHO says it is (examples given), and your qualifications to judge this are... what, exactly? But you're right and they're wrong becuase... why?

          Now, let's do a thought experiment. What if it is H2H? What then for you?

          "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

          by Greg Dworkin on Thu May 25, 2006 at 09:01:37 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Key Facts About Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) (0+ / 0-)

            The risk from avian influenza is generally low to most people, because the viruses do not usually infect humans.

            However, confirmed cases of human infection from several subtypes of avian influenza infection have been reported since 1997.

            Most cases of avian influenza infection in humans have resulted from contact with infected poultry (e.g., domesticated chicken, ducks, and turkeys) or surfaces contaminated with secretion/excretions from infected birds.

            The spread of avian influenza viruses from one ill person to another has been reported very rarely, and transmission has not been observed to continue beyond one person.

            www.cdc.gov

            •  cdc will be rewriting that (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              snakelass

              which, btw, was the point of my yesterday's post and today's. But it's a government site, and they don't do things quickly.

              The discussion and issue, is not how to interpret yesterday's news, but how to prepare for tomorrow's.

              But even CDC acknowledges "the spread of avian influenza viruses from one ill person to another has been reported very rarely", which of course contradicts your claim that human to human spread is bullshit (you prabably meant chickenshit, but we'll give you a pass there).

              "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

              by Greg Dworkin on Thu May 25, 2006 at 10:59:17 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Which eminent scientists? (0+ / 0-)

            So which eminent scientists and epidemiologists from all over the world say Flu transmitting from human to human?

            Links please.

            •  you're mixing apples and oranges (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              tzt
              WHO, Ungchusak and Dowell, etc. have discussed the human to human cases. WHO says in multiple places that there was a case in Vietnam and a case in Thailand. In fact, I quoted them in my piece.
                 It is the fourth - and largest - family cluster of bird flu cases likely transmitted from human to human since the start of the outbreak in Hong Kong in 2003, said Gregory Hartl, a spokesman for the Geneva-based WHO.

              "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

              by Greg Dworkin on Thu May 25, 2006 at 11:26:31 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  San Francisco is still standing (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          DaveV, snakelass

          You know, ever since 1906 people have been saying San Francisco (and Los Angeles) will be flattened by The Big One (Earthquake). But since it hasn't happened yet, I guess everyone was full of hot air.

          (Oh, no, that was the scientists predicting a Cat 5 hurricane would hit New Orleans someday. THEY are full of hot air that produced the heat to fuel a mere Cat 3 hurricane hitting Mississippi. It actually missed New Orleans. Nyah, nyah, they got it wrong!)

        •  Love playing with terminology.... (0+ / 0-)

          Bird Flu will not be pandemic.  Why?

          Because it will not be Bird Flu anymore, but human Flu!

          Thank you, Thank you very much... Don't forget to tip your waiter or waitress.

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