HHS buys another 5 million doses of anthrax vaccine


May 5, 2006 (CIDRAP News) – The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is adding 5 million doses of anthrax vaccine to its stockpile for civilian biodefense, which will double its store of the vaccine.

HHS announced in a press release that it is buying the doses of Anthrax Vaccine Adsorbed (AVA) for $120 million from BioPort Corp. of Lansing, Mich. The purchase augments the 5 million AVA doses that HHS bought from BioPort a year ago.

"The additional BioPort vaccine will further strengthen and expand the Strategic National Stockpile's medical countermeasures for anthrax," said Stewart Simonson, HHS assistant secretary for public health emergency preparedness. The agency says the added vaccine, together with an "already substantial" supply of antibiotics, helps diversify the nation's medical stockpile.

The vaccine is funded by the Project Bioshield Act of 2004, which authorized spending of up to $5.6 billion on medical defenses against biological, chemical, radiological, and nuclear threats.

To provide full protection, AVA requires six doses over 18 months, followed by annual boosters, which is the regimen used in the US military. The vaccine has generated controversy in the military because of concern over side effects.

HHS has a contract to buy 75 million doses of a new anthrax vaccine from VaxGen Inc. of Brisbane, Calif., for $877 million. Officials hope that vaccine, which is not yet licensed, will provide protection in three doses and have fewer side effects than AVA.

See also:

May 5 HHS press release

May 6, 2005, CIDRAP news story "HHS buys anthrax vaccine for civilian stockpile"

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