The PharmAthene-Murtha-O'Toole connection and other news outlets are reporting that PharmAthene, closely tied to late Congressman John Murtha and DHS Under Secretary Tara O'Toole, has seen millions of dollars added to a 2003 contract without competing for it.

PharmAthene was originally awarded the contract by BARDA. The extra money comes from a 2008 DHS request for proposal for a second-generation anthrax vaccine. The request for proposal, as issued, was to be a re-procurement for a canceled 2006 contract.

"In consultation with BARDA, today PharmAthene submitted a White Paper for advanced development of SparVax(TM) in response to the BAA," David Wright, president and chief executive officer of PharmAthene said in a press release at the time. "If BARDA finds our submission acceptable, a formal proposal will be requested. We believe that, if awarded, funding provided under this BAA, along with potential additional funding under our existing contract with BARDA, will be sufficient to advance SparVax(TM) to a stage where it will be eligible for consideration for a Project BioShield procurement contract.”

As 2009 came to a close, PharmAthene was awarded a sole-source contract for its vaccine, causing its stock to nearly double.

According to news reports, PharmAthene is closely linked to Murtha and O'Toole, who was head of the Center for Biosecurity, which maintains close ties to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

At the time of O'Toole's nomination, the Washington Times noted that "President Obama’s nominee at the Department of Homeland Security overseeing bioterrorism defense has served as a key adviser for a lobbying group funded by the pharmaceutical industry that has asked the government to spend more money for anthrax vaccines and biodefense research."

People close to Murtha and O'Toole have worked to position the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center for a major biosecurity vaccine production contract. Such a contract would pump billions of dollars into Murtha's district. UMPC's vaccine production facility is expected to be run by PharmAthene.

Joel McCleary, the founder of PharmAthene, is also a founding partner at the Washington, DC-based Four Seasons Ventures private equity firm and is an advisor to UPMC.

McCleary is partnered with former Murtha aide James Ervin at Four Seasons. Ervin lobbies for PharmAthene, in which Four Seasons is heavily invested.

O'Toole, who once advised the Alliance for Biosecurity (believed to be run by PharmAthene), is now in a position to steer business to PharmAthene at the expense of taxpayers.