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HHS to Acquire Anthrax Immune Globulin for Stockpile


Friday, July 28, 2006, The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced today it will purchase 10,000 therapeutic courses of treatment of Anthrax Immune Globulin (AIG) from Cangene Corporation of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada for a total of $143,833,719. This acquisition is via modifications to an existing contract for anthrax therapeutics awarded to Cangene last September.

Deliveries of AIG to the Strategic National Stockpile are expected to begin in 2007. Under the terms of the agreement, full payment to Cangene is contingent on the product receiving authorization for marketing in the U.S. from the Food and Drug Administration, but permits delivery of the product before licensing for emergency use should it be needed.

“Our first line of defense against anthrax is antibiotics,” said HHS Assistant Secretary for Public Health Emergency Preparedness, RADM Craig Vanderwagen, M.D. “While additional studies are underway to determine its efficacy and ultimate role in treatment, AIG may have the potential to provide physicians with a source of human antibodies against the anthrax toxin that could improve the management of patients with the life-threatening toxemia associated with severe anthrax.”

Despite treatment with highly active antibiotics there is still a significant mortality from inhalational anthrax. Toxins produced by the anthrax bacteria are believed to be a major cause of this mortality. AIG is a potentially promising addition to the array of medical countermeasures and will be available in the Strategic National Stockpile for emergency usage to try to prevent and mitigate the disease-causing effects of anthrax.

The Department of Homeland Security has determined that Bacillus anthracis, the bacteria that causes anthrax, presents a material threat to the U.S. population sufficient to affect national security. The interagency National Science and Technology Council’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Medical Countermeasures Subcommittee has recommended anthrax therapeutics be acquired to improve the nation’s biodefense preparedness and response capabilities. In addition to this purchase, last month, HHS awarded another Project BioShield contract to Human Genome Sciences for 20,000 treatment courses of a different anthrax antitoxin, the monoclonal antibody, ABthrax.

HHS’ Office of Public Health Emergency Preparedness, which oversees the advanced development and procurement efforts under the Project BioShield program through its Office of Public Health Emergency Medical Countermeasures (formerly the Office of Research and Development Coordination), manages the contract with Cangene.


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