Rummy the Influenza Profiteer
Do you know someone who has the flu? Have you ever had the flu? If you answered “yes” to any of those questions-Did you or the person you know take Tamiflu? If so, Donald Rumsfield thanks you. Not for preventing the spread of the flu, but for making him rich while stopping the spread of influenza.
Here are the facts. On November 1, 2005, then President George W. Bush went to the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland to hold a high profile press conference, to announce a 381-page plan, officially called the Pandemic Influenza Strategic Plan. The President surrounded himself with half his cabinet, including Secretary of State Condi Rice, Secretaries of Homeland Security, Agriculture, Health & Human Services, Transportation and, Veterans Affairs. The White House also invited the Director-General of the World Health Organization, who flew in from Geneva for the occasion. Needless to say this was a big deal. The President’s opening remarks set the tone:
“At this moment, there is no pandemic influenza in the United States or the world. But if history is our guide, there is reason to be concerned. In the last century, our country and the world have been hit by three influenza pandemics — and viruses from birds contributed to all of them. The first, which struck in 1918, killed over half-a-million Americans and more than 20 million people across the globe…Scientists and doctors cannot tell us where or when the next pandemic will strike, or how severe it will be, but most agree: at some point, we are likely to face another pandemic. And the scientific community is increasingly concerned by a new influenza virus known as H5N1 — or avian flu…”
Here is where it gets interesting. Despite the stated absence of a clear and present danger to the American public, the President called on Congress to immediately pass a new $7.1 billion in emergency funding to prepare for possible future danger. The speech was a testament to the Bush Doctrine that President Bush is so well known for. BUT WAIT… The President’s list of emergency measures was a call for Congress to appropriate another $1 billion explicitly for Tamiflu. THATS ONE BILLION.
Tamiflu, made by Gilead Sciences, seems to work, so its no shock that it would be needed to be mass produced…wait, mass produced for an issue that isn’t even an issue. Seems odd. Well..its not only odd but it may have been unethical or illegal.
GUESS WHAT? The Secretary of Defense under President Bush, Donald H. Rumsfeld, was on the board of Gilead Sciences since 1988 and Chairman of the Board of Gilead Sciences from 1997 until early 2001 when he became Defense Secretary. On October 26, 2005, Sec. Rumsfield released a statement that he had “reclused” himself on any Pentagon discussions involving Gilead Sciences. Seems like a good move to remove himself from any “conflict of interest” issues, RIGHT? HOLD ON!!! Before he removed himself from “any further discussions”, Rummy purchased $18 million dollars in additional stock in Gilead Sciences, making him one of its largest if not the largest stock owners. That reclusion came after he had already scored his windfall on the Gilead Science stock price jump. How big was the price jump, you ask?
FACT: In 2001, when Rumsfield became Sec. of Defense and left Gilead Sciences’ board, the stock price went from $7.00 a share to $50.00 a share in 2005. That is a 720% profit from his initial investment 4 years earlier.
On November 15, 2005, Fortune Magazine reported:
“The Defense Secretary decided not to sell his many shares in Gilead so as to ‘avoid being accused of insider trading.’ If true, that means Mr. Rumsfeld, apparently not one to shy away from turning a fast buck, has bagged an eye-popping windfall, as demand for Tamiflu worldwide explodes. Today it is the hottest drug in the world market. On October 6, the Pentagon announced it had stockpiled quantities of Tamiflu for members of the military.”
Is is considered insider trading when you can manufacture the threat of a “future” pandemic that causes hysteria and the only way to squelch that hysteria is by selling the people a drug you make?
I didn’t think you could yell “FIRE” in a theater when there isn’t a fire at all….I guess I was wrong. Again, I find myself angry and depressed at the obvious manipulation of the American people by our administration for their own personal profit.
On a side note, Gilead Sciences closed at 46.985 yesterday. Still going strong.
Congrats to you Mr. Rumsfield. Be sure to bundle up, it is flu season after all.