Why is Obama Administration Spending $433 Million on Experimental Smallpox Drug When Last Case was in 1949?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Ronald Perelman
There’s hasn’t been a case of smallpox in the U.S. in 62 years. But that hasn’t stopped the Obama administration from awarding a $433 million deal to a company to produce an antidote for the non-existent disease—a company whose controlling shareholder is a major Democratic donor.
 
Billionaire Ronald Perelman, one of the world’s richest men and a longtime Democratic Party supporter, owns stock in Siga Technologies Inc., which received the smallpox drug contract over the objections of specialists in the Department of Health and Human Services.
 
When the department’s lead negotiator for the deal objected to Siga’s financial demands, senior administration officials had him replaced, according to the Los Angeles Times.
 
The administration also blocked other companies from bidding on the work, resulting in Siga getting a non-competitive contract.
 
Siga is expected to deliver 1.7 million doses of the smallpox remedy to the government in case there’s ever a bioterror attack.
 
The last time an American was diagnosed with the disease was 1949, and the last case of naturally occurring smallpox anywhere in the world was in Somalia in 1977.
 
As David Willman wrote in the LA Times wrote: “There is no credible evidence that any other country or a terrorist group possesses smallpox.”
-Noel Brinkerhoff
 
Cost, Need Questioned in $433-Million Smallpox Drug Deal (by David Willman, Los Angeles Times)

Smallpox Disease Overview (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) 

Comments

Dee L 2 years ago
let's not forget that siga has a very ticked off competitor with some serious political clout behind it, so one has to wonder if this would still be an issue if the competitor didn't have a beef. i also wonder if negotiations from similar procurements from other companies would also hold up to such scrutiny. let's also not forget that the process actually began under the bush administration when funds were given to the company to develop the drug. also, perleman donates to both parties. and, look at the whole board of directors. it may surprise you that not long after stern was appointed, frances townsend, homeland security advisor to president bush, was added and she is an expert on bioterrorism. while smallpox was eradicated, anyone with a basic biology degree can reverse engineer the virus from existing pox (cowpox etc.) viruses. an antiviral is needed for several reasons... first, smallpox in its early stages mimics cold/flu-like symptoms, so by the time it is discovered that a person may have spread smallpox it would be to late to administer the vaccine. the vaccine only has a four day window for use after a person is exposed. second, not every person can tolerate the vaccine. about 20 to 25% of the population cannot be vaccinated due to health issues. i have eczema and cannot be vaccinated. third, the vaccine itself is known to have serious side effects in those that are healthy. interesting note is siga's product was used successfully in three cases where the vaccine caused serious illness. the cdc considers just one case of smallpox to be a national emergency and cleanup would be economically devastating. a good read on the subject is demon in the freezer by the same author of the hot zone. yes, i am posting similar posts on various websites. i think some important facts are missing.
Jeff 2 years ago
why have a cure for a bio terror threat? why do we scan the skys for planet killer meteorites when the last major impact was 60 million years ago? i for one wish we had planned for the possibility of commercial jets being used as flying bombs before 9/11. the reason that siga got a sole source contract is they are the only competitor with a drug that cures smallpox - why would you give a contract to a company that does not have a drug that cures smallpox? this drug has already saved the lives of three people who had adverse reactions to smallpox vaccine - reactions that are similar in nature to the actual disease. perhaps you should do some research before spouting off like a know it all. like for instance that this program was initiated during the bush administration and has been supported by congressman from both sides. siga develops a cure for a disease that has killed 300-500 million people in history and now they are the bad guys? i hope they don't cure cancer - they would probably do jail time.

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