By Alexander Haislip
Venture capital firm set to reap rewards on swine flu
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The swine flu outbreak is likely to benefit one of the most prolific and successful venture capital firms in the United States: Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Thomson Reuters Private Equity Week reported on Friday.
Shares of the two public companies in the firm’s portfolio of eight Pandemic and Bio Defense companies — BioCryst Pharmaceuticals (BCRX.O) and Novavax (NVAX.O) — jumped Friday on news that the swine flu killed a reported 60 people in Mexico and has infected people in the United States.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said the virus appears to be susceptible to Roche’s (ROG.VX) flu drug Tamiflu, also known as oseltamivir, but not to older flu drugs such as amantadine.
Roche said it has five million treatment courses of Tamiflu on stand-by for the WHO in its “Rapid Response Stockpile.”
“Roche was contacted by the WHO and is prepared to immediately deploy the stockpile if requested. However, this request has not been made at this time,” Roche spokesman Terry Hurley said.
Shares of Swiss drugmaker Roche Holding AG closed up 3.48 percent after falling sharply earlier in the week on a cancer drug disappointment, while shares of U.S. biotechnology company Gilead Sciences Inc (GILD.O), which gets royalties from Roche on Tamiflu sales, slipped 10 cents to $45.80 on Friday.
Shares of BioCryst, a maker of drugs that block key enzymes in viral diseases, jumped more than 26 percent on Friday to $2.21 per share. Viral vaccine maker Novavax rose more than 75 percent to $1.42 per share.
BioCryst CEO John Stonehouse said his company does not anticipate the use of its technology in treating this episode of swine flu.
“We’re in clinical trials right now and not on the market,” Stonehouse said.
Still, the companies will have to go even higher for Kleiner Perkins to make its investment back. Both BioCryst and Novavax experienced long drops from price peaks in 2006, when reports of avian flu dominated headlines.
BioCryst is down nearly 90 percent from its 2006 high of $20.75 per share and Novavax is down more than 85 percent from a high of $7.98 per share.
Kleiner Perkins invested $30 million in BioCryst in December 2005 alongside Fort Worth, Texas-based buyout firm TPG. The two firms invested again in August 2007, picking up $65 million worth of shares and warrants. The investors bought shares in BioCryst at $13.46 and then $7.80.
Kleiner Perkins put $20 million in Novavax in February 2006 alongside Palo Alto, Calif.-based Prospect Venture Partners. The two firms picked up the shares at $4.35.
Novavax can produce a vaccine from an emergent strain of flu virus in 12 weeks, according to CEO Rahul Singhvi. The company has contacted the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to offer help and is trying to contact the Ministry of Health in Mexico, Singhvi said.
Singhvi said, and it might be used in the case of an emergency.
“There is an emergency authorization avenue that is available that would allow us to use the vaccine in an emergency without further testing,” said Singhvi.
Kleiner Perkins typically only invests in early stage start-up technologies. It is best known for its investments in Netscape, Amazon.com (AMZN.O), Google (GOOG.O) and Genentech (ROG.VX).
The Menlo Park, California-based VC firm launched a $200 million Pandemic Bio Defense fund in 2006 to invest in technology companies working on drugs, diagnostics and inoculations against flu-like diseases.
“We will invest to accelerate innovation, and we’re in a hurry,” Investor John Doerr said at the time. “We hope even a mild pandemic never recurs.”
Investors at Kleiner Perkins were not immediately available for comment.
The firm’s other Pandemic Bio Defense investments include:
* San Francisco-based Anza Therapeutics, which is working on therapeutic vaccines for treating certain types of cancer and hepatitis C. * Fremont, Calif.-based Breathe Technologies, which is working on lightweight respiratory ventilator systems. * Emeryville, Calif.-based HX Diagnostics, which is working to make diagnostic tools for seasonal and emerging diseases. * Pleasanton, Calif.-based Juvaris BioTherapeutics Inc., which is working on vaccines and immunotherapeutics to treat infectious disease and cancer. * San Diego-based Trius Therapeutics, which is developing drugs to fight resistant-strains of bacteria. * Marlborough, Mass.-based Xcellerex Inc., which has developed tools and manufacturing processes to speed the deployment of new vaccines.
Wise Up Journal
By Gabriel O’Hara
The thing to fear is not the hype of a virus but the emergency measures than can legally be carried out without the so called emergency ever happening in your country, all that is required is a simple alert from the unelected people at the World Health Organisation. A WHO Alert 6 will kick off the following:
Health Act section 32 A and B below deals with the entire population not just the infected […]. It gives the Minister power to order the injection of the entire population (quote: “all adult persons” and “all children”) with a vaccine they believe might immunise against a pandemic “caused by a new influenza strain“. You are probably thinking how could they create a vaccine so fast, doesn’t it take years to prove it is safe? They are prepared to alter the entire population’s immune system and DNA with what would be officially an untested experimental vaccine, are you prepared for that? It’s the law now.
Health Act section 32:
“The Minister may by order declare that-”
“it is necessary, for the purpose of preventing the spread of a particular infectious disease, that all adult persons should submit themselves to a specified measure in relation to their protection or immunisation against such infectious disease”
“The Minister may by order declare that—”
“it is necessary, for the purpose of preventing the spread of a particular infectious disease, that all children should be submitted to a specified measure in relation to their protection or immunisation against that infectious disease”.
Section 38 contains a purposeful loophole to detain anyone. It legalizes the detention of, by force if necessary, people who are not identified as infected but are a “probable” source. The name of section 38 is “Detention and isolation of person who is probable source of infection” and it states the following, “force may, if necessary, be used for the purpose of carrying out any provision of this subsection.”
Part 2 of section 38 redefines the word person into patient: “(2) Where an order is made under this section in relation to a person (in this subsection referred to as the patient), the following provisions shall have effect[….]”. This makes it legal for the government imprison people known not to be infected and label them as patients.