Economics and the mid-life crisis have much in common: Both dwell on foregone opportunities

C'est la vie; c'est la guerre; c'est la pomme de terre . . . . . . . . . . . . . email: jpalmer at uwo dot ca

. . . . . . . . . . .Richard Posner should be awarded the next Nobel Prize in Economics . . . . . . . . . . . .

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Worried About Avian Flu?
Don't Try to Stockpile Tamiflu via the Internet

It seems that many people are not only concerned about the possibility of an Avian Flu pandemic, but they are trying to prepare for it by stockpiling Tamiflu, despite repeated warnings (see here and here) that it may not be very effective in most instances.

But of course stockpiling Tamiflu through regular channels is difficult. The gubmnt has indicated it will commandeer much of the supply for whomever it deems most in need. And at current, gubmntly-induced artificially low prices, there is an excess quantity demanded. Not surprisingly, many people wishing to hedge against the possibility of an avian flu pandemic are turning to the internet to order and stockpile Tamiflu. Let's hope it has some placebo effect because much of the vaccine ordered over the internet turns out to be counterfeit, with possibly no more than vitamin C as its main ingredient [h/t to Jack for the link].
[A]gents have seized 51 separate packages, each containing up to 50 counterfeit capsules labeled generic Tamiflu.

The fake drugs had none of Tamiflu's active ingredients, and officials were running tests to determine what the capsules did contain. Initial tests indicated some vitamin C in the capsules, said David Elder, director of the Food and Drug Administration Office of Enforcement.

... Agents became suspicious because Tamiflu is produced by Swiss pharmaceutical manufacturer Roche, and there is no generic version available.
This is to be expected. When the gubmnt sets a price ceiling, black and grey markets develop, and it is much more difficult to assess quality and reliability, and to enforce contracts, in these markets.
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