Bird Flu Profitable For Europe’s Fastest Growing Drug Firm

October 23 15:32 2005 Print This Article

Makes you wonder

BASEL, October 23 – At least one clan of families must be rejoicing over the widespread panic for the avian influenza. Swiss-based drug firm Roche is the license holder to the anti-viral drug Tamiflu which is ordered by the millions by many governments right now.

Known to be the only anti-viral drug providing any success to combating the avian flu Tamiflu is now so in demand that the company cannot even produce enough to keep up with the orders. U.S. Republicans have already threatened with compulsory licensing of the drug recipe to generic manufacturers to boost the production rate considerably. Roche of course is withholding, trying to hold on to the immense revenue as long as possible.

Odd if you realize that Roche did not even invent Tamiflu, U.S. based pharmaceutical firm Gilead is responsible for this. Early on they signed an exclusive development and licensing agreement with Roche, a very profitable one for Roche as it turns out. With the current threats of a global pandemic the family behind this massive company is expected to net about $3 million extra by the end of 2006 simply because of increased revenue from Tamiflu orders.

Many competitors have tried to get their hands on Roche, Swiss rival Novartis holds about one third of the total shares but a merger is not negotiable, the owners are much too proud to allow this and they hold a 50.01% share in the company. It is expected that in the future the new generation of heirs might allow such a merger though, they almost have too to keep up with the U.S. giant Pfizer and U.K. giant GlaxoSmithKline.

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