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Pharma's Not the Only Swine-Flu Pig


Many non-health industries are benefiting from the pandemic.

In a summer full of major news stories, the H1N1 virus was one of the biggest. With the government set to conduct surveys and research to track the spread of swine flu, the influenza started spreading around the United States in April and was declared a pandemic by the World Health organization on June 11. While a number of industries -- most notably tourism -- have been hurt by the spread of H1N1, a small number of companies and industries have actually seen something of a bump since the flu began spreading.

In the wake of the Swine Flu outbreak, countries including Italy, Poland, Hong Kong, and Venezuela have discouraged their citizens from visiting the United States. In addition, the pork industry has been hit by the unfortunate naming of Swine Flu, which medical officials say cannot be contracted by eating pork. But a small number of industries have enjoyed a positive swing in the face of this emerging pandemic.

The most obvious industry to benefit from the Swine Flu outbreak has been pharmaceuticals. See How to Profit from the Swine Flu Panic. While countries across the globe search for a vaccine, some companies have seen some generous bumps in their stock price as they address the issue. One of the most high-profile examples has been Inovio Biomedical (INO), which has seen its stock value improve 165% through July, following the company's announcement that its SynCon vaccine protected against H1N1. Larger companies like Pfizer (PFE) and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) have also been addressing the issue and could reap potential rewards.

But other industries not normally associated with H1N1 have seen an unexpected bump as well. In Taiwan, where the public has responded to the outbreak with a greater emphasis on hygiene, Mao Bao -- a maker of household cleaning products -- saw its highest stock prices since 2005. In anticipation of Ramadan, private jet charters in Saudi Arabia have seen a jump of as much as 50%, thanks primarily to travelers reticence to fly commercial airlines during the summer of Swine Flu.

In Europe, the outbreak has already inspired a video game over at in which players must scan the continent, effectively tracking symptoms before alerting the public and distributing a vaccine. In the UK, Real Food Direct, an online grocery retailer, is even offering a "get well soon" Swine Flu gift basket that includes bacon-flavored potato chips and a gingerbread pig.

While a number of health-related industries have benefited from the outbreak despite the harm --borne primarily out of misinformation -- that's been done to others, many companies are seeing a unique opportunity and grabbing it.
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