Many investors are jumping on the Ebola epidemic– as a money making opportunity.
Besides the moral questions of whether or not it’s alright to profit off of a deadly disease that has killed thousands of people, investors have been showing more interest in many bio-pharmaceutical companies, which are working on Ebola vaccines.
Here’s a breakdown of the main players:
Tekmira Pharmaceuticals (TKMR)
Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is a Canadian company developing an anti-Ebola vaccine under a $140 million contract with the U.S. Department of Defense’s Medical Countermeasure Systems BioDefense Therapeutics (MCS-BDTX) Joint Product Management Office.
Also, Tekmira’s treatment, “TKM-Ebola” has been approved for use during this current outbreak.
GlaxoSmithKline plc (GSK)
GlaxoSmithKline has a vaccine candidate in phase I studies in the United States, United Kingdom, and Mali according to a company statement.
If the data from those studies are positive, Glaxo said it will start vaccinating healthcare workers on the front line in the counties hit the hardest in Western Africa– Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia.
Though, this may not happen til early 2015 at the soonest.
Johnson & Johnson (JNJ)
JNJ is a household name which manufactures everything from baby powder to Tylenol.
The company just announced it will begin clinical trials in January 2015 for a vaccine combination to protect against an Ebola strain that it described as “highly similar” to the virus that has triggered the current outbreak.
Johnson & Johnson will spend up to $200 million on the project, and it hopes to start clinical trials sometime in May 2015– if safety tests prove successful.
Fujifilm Holdings Corporation (FUJIY)
Toyama Chemical Company, a subsidiary of Japan’s Fujifilm, has developed a drug under the brand name, “Avigan” to treat new and re-emerging influenza viruses.
Fujifilm is in talks with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on clinical testing of the drug in treating Ebola, according to a company spokesman, Takao Aoki.
Chimerix Inc. (CMRX)
Chimerix also got the green light from regulators at the Food and Drug Administration to test its experimental antiviral drug on patients suffering from Ebola.
It’s drug, called “Brincidofovir “ is already in phase 3 clinical trials for other viruses including smallpox.
Though, lab tests suggest it may also work against Ebola, USA Today reported.
Sarepta Therapeutics Inc. (SRPT)
Sarepta is behind one of the most promising Ebola treatments showing a 60% to 80% success rate when tested in monkeys, its CEO Chris Garabedian told CNBC.
The bad news is that the company is in short supply of it, with only enough doses to handle about 100 patients.
Garabedian said Sarepta didn’t have the resources to quickly increase production.
BioCryst Pharmaceuticals Inc. (BCRX)
BioCryst, a North Carolina biopharmaceutical company says its drug, BCX-4430 is being developed as a post-exposure measure for those in environments where conditions are conducive to accidental Ebola exposure.
It was also awarded more than $4 million in federal research funds last August, as part of a 5-year contract for up to $22 million, to help fast-track its development.
NewLink Genetics (NLNK)
Trials of an experimental vaccine developed by the Canadian government and licensed to NewLink Genetics will begin in healthy volunteers in Europe, Gabon, and Kenya, under a program with funding from the Wellcome Trust, Reuters reported.
NewLink’s treatment is currently undergoing initial testing in the United States and is one of two to have been injected into humans in clinical trials.
Conclusion: The World Health Organization says the current outbreak, which started heating up in March 2014, is the largest and most complex since the virus was first discovered in 1976.
That said, thousands of people in West Africa are expected to get experimental Ebola treatments starting as soon as this January as drug-makers ramp up trials and approval for their vaccines.
Question: Would you ride the wave of Ebola-related drug stocks, or do you find it unethical to invest in them?
Tweet me @KarinaAtWork
Disclaimer: The author has no positions in any of the stocks mentioned. The author is not receiving compensation for it. Use your own discretion when investing.