News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: Big Daddy Runsfeld Hits the Jackpot

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Big Daddy Runsfeld Hits the Jackpot

For those who appreciate these sorts of ironies, it's being reported that Donald Rumsfeld will not only make cash for his buddies in the defense industry, he'll also make a bundle trading on the human sickness and disease if (when) the plague breaks out. Who needs Mother Courage when you have Big Daddy Rumsfeld? ...

According to the Independent:

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.

More than 60 countries have so far ordered large stocks of the antiviral medication - the only oral medicine believed to be effective against the deadly H5N1 strain of the disease - to try to protect their people. The United Nations estimates that a pandemic could kill 150 million people worldwide.

Britain is about halfway through receiving an order of 14.6 million courses of the drug, which the Government hopes will avert some of the 700,000 deaths that might be expected. Tamiflu does not cure the disease, but if taken soon after symptoms appear it can reduce its severity.

The drug was developed by a Californian biotech company, Gilead Sciences. It is now made and sold by the giant chemical company Roche, which pays it a royalty on every tablet sold, currently about a fifth of its price.

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 sold some of his Gilead shares in 2004 reaping - according to the financial disclosure report he is required to make each year - capital gains of more than $5m. The report showed that he still had up to $25m-worth of shares at the end of 2004, and at least one analyst believes his stake has grown well beyond that figure, as the share price has soared. Further details are not likely to become known, however, until Mr Rumsfeld makes his next disclosure in May. [my emphasis]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sounds to me like he led and invested in the company, which lead to the development of the drugs. These drugs help people. Had Rumsfeld not invested, people would not have been helped.

But the reason for Rumsfeld, or anyone else's, investment isn't usually altruistic. People need an incentive to risk their money in the venture. That incentive is profit.

I don't see a problem here.