Drug companies to reap swine-flu billions - Analysts predict significant boost to sales



By Andrew Jack in London

Some of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies are reaping billions of dollars in extra revenue amid global concern about the spread of swine flu.

Analysts expect to see a boost in sales from GlaxoSmithKline, Roche and Sanofi-Aventis when the companies report first-half earnings lifted by government contracts for flu vaccines and antiviral medicines.

The fresh sales – on top of strong results from Novartis of Switzerland and Baxter of the US, which both also produce vaccines – come as the latest tallies show that more than 740 people have died from the H1N1 virus, and millions have been affected around the world.

GlaxoSmithKline of the UK confirmed it had sold 150m doses of a pandemic flu vaccine – equivalent to its normal sales of seasonal flu vaccine – to countries including the UK, the US, France and Belgium, and was gearing up to boost production.

GSK also produces Relenza, an antiviral medicine that reduces the length and severity of the infection, and is preparing to increase manufacturing towards 60m annual doses. The UK placed an order for 10m treatments this year.

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