The last time we saw the swine flu was in 1976, when it killed a New Jersey army recruit. Today, the swine flu is back with a vengeance, infecting hundreds of people in Mexico, killing at least 18 of them, and spreading into five US states, according to late-breaking New Scientist reports.
Is it a pandemic? No, but the CDC, stock market, and Department of Homeland Security are acting like it could be. That means more Tamiflu, more biosuits, and more business for these five companies and industries:
1. Roche and GlaxoSmithKline
The manufacturer of Tamiflu is enjoying status as one of two drugmakers whose products, according to the CDC, can treat the swine flu. The Department of Homeland Security has also released 12.5 million doses of Tamiflu and Relenza (zanamivir, the CDC-approved treatment), meaning that it–and citizens around the country–will be requiring more of the stuff. Additionally, Gilead Sciences, which invented Tamiflu and still receives sales royalties from Roche, is up 2.5% today in the market.
2. Novavax and BioCryst Pharmaceuticals
These two companies are helping develop a swine flu vaccine. The Street reports that both companies saw a jump in share value on Friday, when Mexico reported 60 swine flu-related deaths.
3. Health Insurance
If you’re concerned about catching the swine flu, but lack insurance, now might be the time to get some. Both Tamiflu and Relenza are prescription drugs, meaning that stocking up on them sans insurance could set you back more than $200 when you factor pricey pills and a doctor’s visit. The CDC also recommends increased travel health coverage, such as Medivac and medical tests, to ensure your safety if you travel during an outbreak. Coverage saves you additional costs–and benefits the industry.
4. The Media
Nothing drives people to news outlets like a pandemic. The swine flu has readers compulsively listening to news updates and refreshing news websites. This is a boon for ad-driven media, which will enjoy increased CPM revenues–and authority–for at least a week.
The Mexican government handed out six million face masks to residents of Mexico City yesterday, according to the AP. I’ll venture to guess that at least some of those masks originated at 3M, whose 8000 N95 respirator is government-approved for protection against microbes. American instapreneurs like this person are also looking to capitalize off a potential respirator craze.