Swine Flu Spurs Investor Interest in San Diego Biomedical Firms

9/21/09

San Diego’s Quidel, which signaled it would report better-than-expected quarterly results on Sept. 10, isn’t the only San Diego biomedical company to get a boost from worries about swine flu. At least four other companies with flu-related products or research programs also have seen their share prices surge since June 11, when World Health Organization Director-General Margaret Chan declared the H1N1 swine flu pandemic had begun. So does swine flu present a real opportunity for these companies?

Whether the investor reaction is warranted depends in part on the severity and spread of the swine flu, which right now is far and away the predominant flu virus circulating in the United States, according to the weekly flu update issued by the national Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. With the official Oct. 4 start of the flu season less than three weeks away, here is a quick look at some San Diego companies with a stake in swine flu.

Quidel flu test

Quidel flu test

—I’ll start with a recap of recent news from Quidel (NASDAQ: QDEL). The diagnostic-test maker said last week the government has granted a special marketing clearance that allows Quidel to revise the packaging inserts for its QuickVue rapid flu test to say the test can detect the H1N1 swine flu strain. But Quidel also said its test can’t differentiate between influenza subtypes, and the company hasn’t established exactly how well QuickVue performs in detecting the specific H1N1 virus.

In the previous week, Quidel, which laid off 10 percent of employees earlier this year, said it has been working seven days a week since April to meet demand from doctors and hospitals for its rapid flu test. Quidel’s shares have leaped 25 percent since … Next Page »

Denise Gellene is a former Los Angeles Times science writer and regular contributor to Xconomy. You can reach her at dgellene@xconomy.com Follow @

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