July 31, 2006

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced it will purchase 10,000 therapeutic courses of anthrax immune globulin (AIG) from Cangene of Winnipeg, Manitoba, for approximately $143 million. This acquisition is part of 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 FDA, but permits delivery of the product before licensing for emergency use.

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 contract to Human Genome Sciences for 20,000 treatment courses of a different anthrax antitoxin, the monoclonal antibody ABthrax.