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An Investment Opportunity for a Healthy World

Dan Newman
April 18, 2013

Since 1981, 25 million people have died from HIV/AIDS. An estimated 1.7 million died in 2011 due to AIDS-related causes, with another 2.5 million newly infected with HIV. Beyond the human cost, the U.S. government spent $28 billion fighting HIV in 2012, and some African countries lose 1% in GDP growth each year due to the disease. It's difficult to grasp these numbers, but it's a problem crying out for several solutions.

One such solution is offered by Female Health Company (NASDAQ: FHCO): FC2, the only female condom approved by the Food and Drug Administration and the World Health Organization.

Social opportunity
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation recently called for proposals for its Grand Challenges in Global Health grant program. One of the topics addressed this year is "reinventing the condom." As the blog post describes the issue:

It may seem obvious, but the success and impact of any public health tool hinges on that tool being used consistently and correctly by those who need it. Vaccines sitting on shelves don't prevent disease. New tuberculosis drug regimens won't help if patients stop taking them halfway through the necessary days. Likewise, the potential value of condoms is limited by inconsistent use.

The FC2 condom is a superb public health tool that allows women to initiate protection against sexually transmitted diseases. As to making sure it is used consistently and correctly, Female Health has a variety of initiatives. In South Africa, Female Health has distributed 20 million condoms and trained 10,000 health providers. The company also runs a website with product information and training, it will be investing $14 million over the next six years in HIV/AIDS and reproductive education with global agencies, and it has set a goal of reaching 120 million more women in the poorest countries by 2020.

Profitable opportunity
Some may guess that doing business with developing countries wouldn't allow for a very profitable business. However, whe