In October 2005 the Pentagon ordered vaccination of all US military personnel worldwide against what it called Avian Flu, H5N1. Scare stories filled world media. Then, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld announced he had budgeted more than $1 billion to stockpile the drug Oseltamivir, sold under the name Tamiflu. President Bush called on Congress to appropriate another $2 billion for Tamiflu stocks.
What Rumsfeld neglected to report at the time was a colossal conflict of interest. Prior to coming to Washington in January 2001, Rumsfeld had been chairman of a California pharmaceutical company, Gilead Sciences. Gilead Sciences held exclusive world patent rights to Tamiflu, a drug it had developed and whose world marketing rights were sold to the Swiss pharma giant, Roche. Rumsfeld was reportedly the largest stock holder in Gilead which got 10% of every Tamiflu dose Roche sold. 14 When it leaked out, the Pentagon issued a curt statement to the effect that Secretary Rumsfeld had decided not to sell but to retain his stock in Gilead, claiming that to sell would have indicated something to hide.’ That agonizing decision won him reported added millions as the Gilead share price soared more than 700% in weeks.