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Pharma shares boost

The UK stockmarket has rallied above the 4,000 key bench level according to the FTSE 100 Index

The UK stockmarket has rallied above the 4,000 key bench level according to the FTSE 100 Index. The relative peace of mind arose because there have been no more financial disasters declared on either side of the Atlantic. Investors were beginning to desert the traditionally safe havens of food and pharmaceuticals in search of more risky, and more rewarding, share sectors until worries surfaced of a worldwide swine flu pandemic.

Pharmaceutical companies providing immunisation products sprung back to life when the Health Secretary, Alan Johnson, said Britain was on "constant alert" after the H1N1 strain of influenza spread from Mexico. Virologists in the UK have agreed that the worst-case scenario of an H1NI pandemic could result in as many as 120 million deaths worldwide. However, they also stressed that the UK has stockpiled enough of the antiviral drugs Relenza and Tamiflu to treat half the population. Roche's Tamiflu, and GSK's Relenza have been shown to work against viral samples of H1N1.  The drugs were also used to protect against outbreaks of H5N1 bird flu in Asia. Roche has stockpiled 3 million packs of Tamiflu for use by the World Health Organisation, should the need arise.

Greater numbers taking statins
Figures from the NHS Information Centre – which collects data on all drugs dispensed in England – reveal that seven million people in England are taking a statin to lower cholesterol and reduce their risk of having a heart attack. In 2008, 48.5 million prescriptions were dispensed – up from seven million in 1998. Last year the NHS spent £450m on these drugs. Since 2004 some statins have been available, without prescription, from pharmacies in the UK.

The Author
Malcolm Craig is a freelance financial journalist.

28th April 2009


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