Thursday, November 03, 2005

Follow the Tamiflu Money

We've written frequently on The Blogging of the President that the key to understanding Republicans is that they run government as their personal profit center. We've also looked at the specific pandemic politics behind the US's lack of avian flu preparation: a plan based on profits, not prevention or containment.

Meet next step in the human tragedy for profit plan:
The Bush administration's avian flu plan forces state governments to buy "31 million of the 81 million doses of antiviral drugs intended for the national stockpile.... Under the administration's plan, states will have to pay 75 percent of the cost of those drugs."
And where does all the money go?
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 kicker: the Department of Justice, the SEC and the federal Office of Government Ethics all apparently have no problems with Rumsfeld holding the shares, according to the "senior Pentagon official" quoted in the CNN article. In the past six months those shares have risen from $35 to $47 and earned Rumsfeld at least an additional million dollars.

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