Flu stocks on the rise as disease spreads

The world may be waiting for WHO to determine whether the swine flu outbreak is indeed a pandemic, but investors aren't waiting to place their money on "yes." Pharma stocks in general are on the rise, despite an overall downward trend. And companies with direct flu links are rising even more.

Roche, which makes the antiviral Tamiflu, and GlaxoSmithKline, maker of flu-fighter Relenza, are leaping ahead; against Euro-market dismay, both companies posted stock gains of almost 4 percent. Both of these meds have been effective against the H1N1 strain that has killed more than 100 people in Mexico and now threatens to spread worldwide.

Relenza's developer, the Australian company Biota, saw its shares skyrocket by--get this--82 percent in overseas trading. Gilead Sciences, Tamiflu's originator, was ticking upward this morning, rising some 3 percent by press time. Novavax, a U.S. biotech that's working on vaccine technology, leapt by 75 percent Friday and had more than doubled at press time today. Other vaccine producers--such as Sanofi-Aventis, Novartis and Baxter--also stand to benefit, though developing a shot specific to this strain will necessarily take months.

- see the Roche and Glaxo news from Reuters
- check out the Biota and vaccine numbers