Summit Notebook

Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders

Swine flu sales: windfall or hard work?


Swine flu is turning out to be a sales bonanza for drug companies – just don’t call it a windfall, says GlaxoSmithKline.

As one of the world’s top suppliers of both vaccines and antiviral medicine, CEO Andrew Witty resents the implication that billions of dollars of business simply fell into his company’s lap when the World Health Organisation declared H1N1 a pandemic in June.

“For me the word windfall means you’re walking down the street and something fell out of the sky,” he told the Reuters Health Summit. “We’ve spent the best part of 15 years investing for this situation and our ability to manufacture and supply potentially 500 million or so doses (of vaccine) is all because of these investments.”