Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Your tax dollars at work - the anthrax version

From today's WaPo:
Anthrax Vaccine Contract Voided, Thwarting Administration
By Renae Merle

Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 20, 2006; A01

Federal health officials yesterday scuttled the largest piece of the Bush administration's two-year program to counter bioterrorism, canceling an $877.5 million contract with VaxGen to develop an anthrax vaccine after the company missed a deadline to begin human testing.

The decision, delivered in a one-page letter, ends a troubled effort by the small California firm that has come to symbolize the failures of the government's ambitious $5.6 billion Project BioShield. The termination occurred on the same day President Bush signed legislation attempting to salvage the program by reorganizing its management and pumping more money into firms doing the work.

"It's very disappointing that they took such aggressive and dramatic action without engaging in a discussion with us about potential ways for salvaging all the work that has gone into this program," said Lance Ignon, VaxGen's vice president of corporate affairs. "We believe there is a high probability that this technology would lead to a modern anthrax vaccine."

The company has spent more than $175 million of its own money on the project, its only current contract, he said.

The cancellation means the government will continue to depend on a controversial anthrax vaccine, used by the military and made by Emergent BioSolutions of Gaithersburg, years longer than expected. A spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services said the agency remains committed to developing a next-generation anthrax vaccine but has not decided whether to hold another competition.
Sure, they worked hard on this. Just as hard as they worked on getting the contract. Anyone trace the VaxGen/HHS/RNC nexus?

This entry is from Sourcewatch: (scroll down to Connectedness)
  • In June 2005, "Forbes "exposed the ties between" Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) advisor, Phillip Russell, "the former chief of Army medical research. Russell sits on the board of the Albert B. Sabin Vaccine Institute with VaxGen CEO, Lance Gordon. Both Gordon and Russell denied that their relationship had any impact on the award of the contract." --Transparent Grid, October 14, 2005.
  • In July 2005, "VaxGen named Dr. Eve Slater to its board of directors. Dr. Slater was apponted by President Bush as an Assistant Secretary at HHS and Tommy Thompson’s chief health policy advisor. Before joining HHS, Slater was a senior vice president at Merck and Bush had considered naming her as FDA Commissioner before he named her to the HHS. She resigned in 2003." --Transparent Grid, October 14, 2005.

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