Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Money Machine

It didn't take long for someone to answer my previous question. You know, the one about how Rummy's doing what with all the flu frenzy and administration promises to spend several billion on an influenza program, one that will include the purchase of sizeable quantities of Tamiflu.

As I expected elsewhere, he's doing remarkably well, thank you very much:
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.
It is estimated that Rumsfeld owns between $5 million and $25 million worth of Gilead Sciences stock and that his portfolio is doing nothing but swelling on news of the bird flu:
...but in the past six months fears of a pandemic and the ensuing scramble for Tamiflu have sent Gilead's stock from $35 to $47. That's made the Pentagon chief, already one of the wealthiest members of the Bush cabinet, at least $1 million richer.
See, threatening pandemics aren't all that bad.

Another note of interest, and this was something I had been curious about, is who else was in on the Gilead Sciences stock rocket sled. As we all might expect, some rather familiar names from the GOP past have popped up. On the board of directors we find former Secretary of State George Schultz, and, like a cry from a hoary old past, the wife of former California governor Pete Wilson. It is also interesting to see that Schultz, Reagan's Secretary of State, is on the board of some other companies that will sound rather familiar including but not limited to the Bechtel Group.

Ahh, but it seems even better, although the story is tantalizingly sparse on further connection details. Sufice it to say that it seems Gilead Sciences has quite a network of political tenticles. An analyst, Andrew McDonald, with Think Equity Partners says,
I don't know of any biotech company that's so politically well-connected.
In deference to Rummy, something I don't normally offer him, he has been up front about the stock and even sought, amusing as it may sound, ethical counsel from the DoJ, the SEC and the Office of Government Ethics, none of whom responded. This indicated to Rummy that him making millions on the stock of the company his own Pentagon bought $58 million worth of Tamiflu from was a-ok. Given the ethical state of the US government these days, I just don't know what sort of faith to place in a judgement, or non-judgement as the case may be, emanating from any of those governmenty departments, offices and agencies.

But one thing is abundantly clear: what's shit-pants scary for the country also happens to be very, very good for Gilead. And that Gilead stock today? Up 1.60 or 3.39% to $48.79 (it is going up right now by the minute, so don't trust this number if you see something else.)

I find this whole thing simply fascinating.


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