Newsroom

Drugmakers, Doctors Rake in Billions Battling H1N1 Flu

October 14, 2009
by Dalia Fahmy
ABC News

Americans are still debating whether to roll up their sleeves for a swine flu shot, but companies have already figured it out: vaccines are good for business.

Drug companies have sold $1.5 billion worth of swine flu shots, in addition to the $1 billion for seasonal flu they booked earlier this year. These inoculations are part of a much wider and rapidly growing $20 billion global vaccine market.

Others argue that Americans have little choice. The cost of a widespread pandemic, similar to Spanish Flu outbreak in 1918, which killed 675,000 Americans (and 50 million worldwide), would be devastating. The Trust for America's Health, a Washington-based non-profit organization, estimates that a severe pandemic could push down GDP by more than 5 percent and cost Americans $683 billion.

"We're not seeing a pandemic that's this severe," says Jeff Levi, director of Trust for Americas Health. "We've dodged a lot of bullets."

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