NEWS SCAN: New smallpox vaccine delivered, biodefense funding targeted

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Jul 13, 2010

Bavarian Nordic begins shipping attenuated smallpox vaccine to US
The Danish biotechnology company Bavarian Nordic announced today it has delivered the first 1 million doses of its non-replicating smallpox vaccine, Imvamune, to the US Strategic National Stockpile. The vaccine is intended for use in people who have weakened immunity or other contraindications to conventional smallpox vaccine, which uses a replicating strain of vaccinia virus, a close relative of the smallpox virus. The federal government previously stockpiled hundreds of millions of doses of the conventional vaccine for use in case of a bioterrorist attack involving smallpox. The Bavarian Nordic announcement said Imvamune, derived from the modified vaccinia virus Ankara, is the first vaccine successfully developed under Project BioShield, a program established by Congress in 2004 to develop medical defenses against bioterrorism. The Danish company has a $500 million contract to supply 20 million doses of Imvamune to the US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), with an option to supply another 60 million doses. "Our partnership with BARDA and HHS over the recent years is a case study in successful public-private partnerships to combat bioterrorism," Bavarian Nordic President and CEO Anders Hedegard said in the company announcement.
Jul 13 Bavarian Nordic press release

Proposed slashing of US biodefense funds draws fire
A move by House Democrats to strip $2 billion from reserve funds for bioterrorism and pandemic flu preparedness has angered some of the nation's leading bioterrorism experts, according to a Los Angeles Times report today. The reduction was written into an appropriations bill that passed the House Jul 2. The story said it was part of cuts made by Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., to offset $10 billion he added to prevent teacher layoffs. The cuts affect Project BioShield, a program to develop and buy vaccines and drugs for defense against bioterrorism. Former Sen. Bob Graham, a Florida Democrat, called the proposed cut "an extremely negative development in our overall efforts to prepare not only for bioterrorism but for other biological events from nature." Graham, who co-chaired the Commission for the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction, said he would lobby the White House to restore the funds, according to the story. The proposed cut also drew criticism from Robert Kadlec, a physician who was President George W. Bush's bioterrorism adviser. A spokesman for Obey told the Times that Project BioShield has spent no money in nearly a year, while teachers are being laid off across the country. The White House has not objected to the reduction, and a spokesman told the newspaper that Project BioShield "has not provided a robust pipeline of medical countermeasures."
Jul 13 LA Times story

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