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Swine flu leads to drug companies' shares rise

As governments rush to contain the swine flu virus suspected of killing more than 100 people in Mexico, Roche has confirmed it has a stockpile of 3 million packs of Tamiflu ready for use by the World Health Organisation

As governments rush to contain the swine flu virus suspected of killing more than 100 people in Mexico, Roche has confirmed it has a stockpile of 3 million packs of Tamiflu ready for use by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Tamiflu can reduce the symptoms of swine flu and the company has said it has “an ample supply” of the drug as the outbreak spreads outside Mexico.

GlaxoSmithKline's (GSK) flu drug – Relenza – is also available to governments wishing to halt the spread of swine flu. Relenza has been shown to work against viral samples of the disease.

As a result of these announcements, GSK's shares advanced 3.3 per cent, and Roche's shares rose in Swiss trading. AstraZeneca and Shire put on 1.8 and 1.7 percent, respectively.

Both drugs were previously used to help protect against the outbreak of bird flu in Asia, providing windfall profits for their manufacturers.

In a report on www.telegraph.co.uk, Paul Kavanagh of stockbroker Killik & Co said: "I think there will be little bit of a lift for pharmaceuticals, but this may not follow through unless the situation gets out of hand. Governments will be looking at vaccines, but it's come at a bad time for the world economy and could be very expensive."

27th April 2009

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