David Prosser: So how much did swine flu cost us?
Thursday 29 April 2010
Outlook: Gordon Brown's announcement of the election date on 5 April rather blew all other Government news out of the water.
Very few people noticed the release issued jointly that day by the Department of Health and GlaxoSmithKline, explaining that the pharmaceuticals giant would sell the British taxpayer only 38.4 million doses of its swine flu vaccine, rather than the 60 million ordered by the Government at the height of the panic over the pandemic.
It was in the interests of GSK to do a deal – the lost revenue from the vaccine will be made up for by other guaranteed orders from the DoH for its drugs. Similarly, it seems churlish to criticise the Government for having over-ordered stocks of swine flu vaccine – at the time the contract was agreed no one, including the world's most expert epidemiologists, had any idea whether the virus really was going to be the "big one". Had it turned out that ministers had under-ordered, can you imagine the outcry?
What is regrettable, however, is that the Government has consistently refused to disclose how much it originally agreed to pay GSK, or what this month's deal would cost the taxpayer.
The first quarter trading update revealed by the company reveals just what a stonking money spinner the swine flu scare has been, with worldwide revenues from the vaccine totalling almost £700m – in the first three months of the year alone.
This is not to criticise GSK – as some have done – for making money from the crisis. It did a fabulous job last year under huge pressures in meeting the demand for drugs that might have been needed to save many millions of lives. For months last summer, it poured resources into producing the vaccine, all the time fearing it might not be able to come up with the goods in time.
Nevertheless, British taxpayers surely have a right to know how much of our money the company has had.
- 1 Michael Douglas regrets 'embarrassing' Catherine Zeta-Jones with oral sex comments
- 2 Tunisia hotel attack: Locals form 'human shield' to protect hotel from gunman Seifeddine Rezgui
- 3 Tunisian builder has been hailed a hero after knocking gunman to the ground with roof tiles
- 4 German ethics council calls for incest between siblings to be legalised by Government
- 5 Fifty Shades of Grey author E.L James's Twitter Q&A didn't go exactly as planned
Kim Jong-un shows off airport designed by architect he likely had executed
Michael Douglas regrets 'embarrassing' Catherine Zeta-Jones with oral sex comments
Tunisia hotel attack: Locals form 'human shield' to protect hotel from gunman Seifeddine Rezgui
Greece debt crisis: Athens has one day to find €1.6bn
German ethics council calls for incest between siblings to be legalised by Government
The moment a Queen's Guard soldier lost it and drew his gun at annoying tourist
Greece crisis: The wider lesson is that it’s time to abandon this failed experiment in currencies
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Extend Right To Buy to tenants of private landlords, Labour's Jeremy Corbyn says
David Cameron struck double blow in his hopes to win Britain a new EU deal
Pentagon accuses Russia of 'playing with fire' over nuclear threats towards Nato
iJobs Money & Business
£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Compliance Manager is require...
£22500 - £27000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: Since our inception in 1986, STh...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This extremely successful and well-established...
Competitive with monthly bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced FX...