No, Merck (NYSE:MRK) isn’t a name one tends to think of during a discussion of influenza vaccines, but it’s in the game as a distributor of Afluria, made by CSL Biotherapies — a subsidiary of CSL Limited (PINK:CMXHY).
Most investors don’t realize that Australia’s CSL is actually one of the world’s bigger flu vaccine manufacturers. It just doesn’t market much under its own name. The company sold $130 million worth of Afluria worldwide in 2010, with Merck selling $56 million worth in the United States (as FluVax) that year.
While CSL Limited is one of the more compelling ways to play, it’s also only available via either thinly traded pink-sheet stocks or the Australian stock exchange.