HHS to buy two anthrax drugs for testing

Oct 6, 2005 (CIDRAP News) – Recent US government contracts to test two experimental anthrax drugs could lead to the purchase of up to 100,000 doses of each.

Cangene, based in Winnipeg, Man., has received a contract from the Office of Public Health Emergency Preparedness in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to supply its anthrax immune globulin (AIG) for preliminary efficacy testing, according to a company news release. The company describes AIG as a hyperimmune product for treating or preventing inhalational anthrax, caused by Bacillus anthracis.

HHS has the next year to decide whether to purchase from 10,000 to 100,000 doses of AIG over three years. If that happens, Cangene must seek Food and Drug Administration approval of the product.

HHS has awarded a similar contract to Human Genome Sciences Inc. (HGS) of Rockville, Md. In the first phase of the contract, worth $1.8 million, the company will sell the government 10 grams of ABthrax, a human monoclonal antibody for treating anthrax, the company announced on Oct 3. The government then will have the option to buy up to 100,000 doses of the product within a year.

B anthracis is considered a category A bioweapon. Four years ago this month, soon after the Sep 11 attacks, anthrax spores sent through the US mail caused a series of anthrax cases that eventually totaled 22 (11 cutaneous and 11 inhalational). Five patients with inhalational anthrax died. The case has never been solved.

See also:

CIDRAP anthrax overview
http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/cidrap/content/bt/anthrax/biofacts/index.html

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