HHS to sign $2.8 billion deal for smallpox antiviral

The United States Department of Health and Human Services is expected to sign a $2.8 billion biodefense deal with SIGA Technologies, Inc., pending the resolution of issues related to SIGA’s status with the Small Business Administration.

Under the contract, SIGA will supply the Strategic National Stockpile with 1.7 million courses of its smallpox antiviral. The contract value could reach $2.8 billion if all of the options are exercised, according to SIGA.

The first part of the 1.7 million doses will be expected in a year and a half, but the contract's initial term is five years, according to CNBC.

The drug, ST-246, works by inhibiting the virus’s ability to spread to other cells. It is the only smallpox treatment that has gone through late-stage safety testing and has received fast-track status by U.S. health regulators.

Chimerix, Inc. filed a protest against SIGA to the Small Business Administration, claiming that SIGA is not a small business. Chimerix filed the protest after receiving an HHS pre-award notice that it was unsuccessful in its bid. SIGA intends to respond quickly to the Small Business Administration regarding Chimerix’s claim.

"We are very proud that HHS has selected our groundbreaking drug, ST-246, for this important acquisition and believe that SIGA appropriately qualified as a small business concern for this procurement," Dr. Eric A. Rose, SIGA's chairman and chief executive officer, said, according to press statement.