BARDA awards smallpox antiviral contract

The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority recently announced that it has awarded a five year, $433 million contract for the late-stage development of an antiviral smallpox drug.

SIGA Technologies, Inc., will be expected to deliver 1.7 million treatment courses of the drug, ST-246, within the next five years, according to

The contract will be the first awarded for a smallpox antiviral through the use of Project BioShield, which is managed by BARDA within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response.

The final stages of ST-246’s development will be funded with the contract, including its application for U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval, techniques for scale-up manufacturing, a Phase III safety study with human volunteers and animal studies to test the drug’s efficacy, reports.

SIGA Technologies will also develop an oral formulation of the drug for pediatric use, as required by the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act of 2006.

"Today's contract represents an important milestone in the path from discovery to approval of a medical countermeasure against a potentially deadly bioterrorism threat," Dr. Robin Robinson, BARDA's director, said, according to "Adding antiviral drugs to the health care provider's toolbox is an important part of being prepared for bioterrorism. Antiviral drugs can save lives so we look forward to the final stages of development and future acquisition of this product."

Although the Strategic National Stockpile includes smallpox vaccines, they are only effective if a person is vaccinated before or shortly after exposure. ST-246 is being developed to treat people who have already been exposed to the virus.