The recent outbreak of a new strain of E. coli appeared to do little to help shares in pharmaceutical companies, which benefited from the somewhat overblown swine flu scare of 2009.

In the full year period which encompassed the swine flu scare pharmaceutical companies, such as AstraZeneca, received a boost to their profits as government's bought up stocks of vaccines.

However the rising concern over E. coli appeared to do little to attract investors to pharmaceuticals.

By 08:25 shares in GlaxoSmithKline were up 0.51 per cent on the FTSE 100 to 1,288.00 pence per share, while AstraZeneca shares were flat at 3,125.00 pence per share.