The Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation has released their analysis of US Federal Spending on Bio-defense from 2001-2007.
The numbers are staggering: Since 2001 the U.S. government has spent or allocated over
$36 billion among 11 federal departments and agencies on bio-defense. The Bush Administration has proposed $8 billion in bio-defense
spending for FY '07, approximately $120 million (or 1.5%) over the '06 appropriation. Of particular interest was that only
2% of all federal bio-defense funding has been devoted to efforts to prevent the development, acquisition, and use of biological
weapons by other nations and terrorists.
—June 06. You can view
their analysis here or download it as a PDF
From Federation of American Scientists, at http://www.fas.org/blog/ssp/biosecurity/
cancels anthrax vaccine contract.
The same day that President Bush signed the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act into law, the government canceled their contract for the production of 75 million doses of anthrax vaccine. The contract, with VaxGen, was the most significant from the much
criticized Bioshield program. But the cancellation was anticipated by many after VaxGen, who has never brought a vaccine or
drug to market missed several deadlines and, most recently, had their application for testing their vaccine in humans rejected
by the FDA.
The company only has one other product in its pipeline, a new smallpox vaccine, but they do not have a contract
to produce it. So, after shelling out approximately $175 million of its own cash, they have been left at the table with the
bill. This scenario is precisely why no large pharmaceutical companies bid on the anthrax vaccine contract when it was offered.
It was simply too much of a gamble. Granted, VaxGen’s 5 year time line for production of a next generation vaccine was
overly ambitious by most standards, and they have no one to blame but themselves for signing a contract that there was little
chance of completing on time.
The US will continue to stockpile the previously available anthrax vaccine from Emergent BioSolutions even though
its safety has been a topic of concern for some time and that it has to be delivered in several doses over 6 months.
The cancellation of the contract and the passing of the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act represent
a welcome step back and reevaluation of how the US has been approaching countermeasure development. Amongst
several provisions, the act calls for a reorganization of the Bioshield program and establishes the Biomedical Advanced Research
and Development Authority, or BARDA, under the Department of Health and Human Services, which will be tasked with organizing
vaccine and therapeutic development for potential bioterror agents. Having a more organized and accountable system for spending
the $5.6 billion dollars in Bioshield funding will most certainly could be a step forward.