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Profits up for flu vaccine makers
By Ding Qingfen (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-11-16 07:55

Tamiflu sales

Roche Diagnostics' Tamiflu is another anti-viral treatment approved by China.

"We believe Roche Diagnostics will be benefiting from the H1N1 influenza outbreak in China," Cao Yong, a spokesperson for Roche Diagnostics China, told China Business Weekly.

Thanks to flu outbreaks in the United States, United Kingdom, Japan and Australia, this year, Roche Diagnostics' sales increased by as much as 362 percent from a year earlier to 2 billion francs (2.13 billion yuan) during the first nine months of this year, according to the company's financial report.

Roche Diagnostics' Tamiflu is the first medicine that was approved to enter the Chinese market after the first H1N1 flu case was reported in China. Since September, the government has been purchasing and storing Tamiflu.

"We have been closely watching and communicating with the Ministry of Health about the latest cases and the purchasing demand," Cao said.

But companies such as his are also "trying to be a responsible company" during the flu outbreaks.

"It's not only an opportunity for cash, but also for serving and curing people," Cao said.

Roche is developing donation programs tailored for developing nations such as India.

"We have donated quite a volume of Tamiflu globally, and the move will go on. We also stick to the principle of keeping the price reasonable for all," Cao said.

Rising Chinese shares

Chinese pharmaceutical companies, especially those represented by the vaccine producers, are also benefiting.

The World Health Organization said the illness likely will not disappear until as many as 80 percent of people worldwide contract H1N1 flu.

Vaccines have proven the most efficient way to treat H1N1 flu. The Chinese government is expected to acquire and store more than 126 million units of H1N1 influenza vaccinations from the nation's 11 producers.

Related readings:
Profits up for flu vaccine makers 8M+ Chinese inoculated with A(H1N1) flu vaccine
Profits up for flu vaccine makers Two died after inoculation of A(H1N1) flu vaccine
Profits up for flu vaccine makers Beijing to extend A(H1N1) flu vaccine inoculation
Profits up for flu vaccine makers H1N1 vaccine and common flu vaccine to merge

In late October, the local producers -- including Sinovac Biotech, Hualan Biological Engineering and Beijing Tiantan Biological Products -- received another round of orders from the Chinese government. They are required to finish producing the vaccine before Dec 12.

Shares of the companies have been surging. Since August, when Hualan Biological announced the start of clinical trials for its new H1N1 vaccine, the company's share price doubled to 62 yuan at the end of October, up from about 30 yuan in mid-August.

Hualan Biological is the largest vaccine producer, and it could produce as much as one-third of vaccines nationwide by the end of this year, which would amount to 40 million units annually.

Tiantan Biological's share price also climbed to 30.8 yuan by October, up by 150 percent from 20.4 yuan in early August.

US-listed Sinovac Biotech was the first company to announce completion of preliminary clinical trials on Aug 17.

Since then, the company's share price has inched up by 65 percent to close at $7.41 on the last trading day of October, up from $4.50 in August.


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