Bird Flu Windfall

Once again, the British Press covers American news better than our native newsies do. This time it's the Independent that has the news that Don Rumsfeld has found a way to profit from another sort of human misery.

Donald Rumsfeld has made a killing out of bird flu. The US Defence Secretary has made more than $5m (£2.9m) in capital gains from selling shares in the biotechnology firm that discovered and developed Tamiflu, the drug being bought in massive amounts by Governments to treat a possible human pandemic of the disease.

Mr Rumsfeld was on the board of Gilead from 1988 to 2001, and was its chairman from 1997. He then left to join the Bush administration, but retained a huge shareholding .

The firm made a loss in 2003, the year before concern about bird flu started. Then revenues from Tamiflu almost quadrupled, to $44.6m, helping put the company well into the black. Sales almost quadrupled again, to $161.6m last year. During this time the share price trebled.
Mr. Rumsfeld still has approximately $25 million in Gilead Sciences stock.

If Bird Flu turns out to be (or turns into) the pandemic many fear it is, can we count on the Bush Administration to allow any and all laboratories with the ability to manufacture Tamiflu to do so as quickly and as cheaply as possible? BushCotm has a penchant for providing favors for industry even at the direct expense of people in need.

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